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The Happy Days of the Empress Marie Louise by Imbert De Saint-Amand

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"I, a poor woman,
Being in Paris one day,
Saw him with his court;
He was going to Notre Dame--
All hearts were happy;
Every one admired the procession.
Every one said: What fine weather!
Heaven is always favorable to him.
His smile was very gentle;
God had made him father of a son."
And the little villagers all sing in chorus:--

"What a great day for you, grandmother!
What a great day for you!"

At a little before seven the Imperial procession reached Notre Dame. The
sovereigns were met at the door by the Cardinal Grand Almoner, who gave
them holy water. Then the procession advanced in the following order:
ushers, heralds-at-arms, the Chief Herald, the pages, the aides, the
orderly officers on duty, the masters of ceremonies, the prefects of
the Palace on duty, the officers of the King of Rome, the Emperor's
equerries, ordinary and extraordinary, in attendance, the chamberlains,
ordinary and extraordinary, in attendance, the equerries of the day,
the chamberlains of the day, the First Equerry, the grand eagles of the
Legion of Honor, the high officers of the Empire, the ministers,
the High Chamberlain, the First Equerry, and the Grand Master of
Ceremonies;--the various objects to be used, to wit: the Prince's
candle, carried by the Princess of Neufchatel; the chrisom cloth, by the
Princess Aldobrandini; the saltcellar, by the Countess of Beauvau;--then
the objects belonging to the godfather and godmother, to wit: the basin,
carried by the Duchess of Alborg; the ewer, by the Countess Vilain XIV.;
the towel, by the Duchess of Dalmatia;--in front of the King of Rome,
to the right, the Grand Duke of Wuerzburg, representing the Emperor of
Austria, godfather; to the left, the mother of Napoleon, godmother, and
Queen Hortense, representing the Queen of Naples, the second godmother;
the King of Rome, carried by his governess, in a coat of silver tissue
embroidered with ermine, with his two assistant governesses and nurse
on each side (the train of his coat was carried by Marshal, the Duke
of Valmy); the Empress, beneath a canopy upheld by canons, her First
Equerry holding Her Majesty's train; the lady-in-waiting and
tirewoman, the Knight of Honor and the First Almoner, to the right and
left;--behind the canopy Princess Pauline, an officer of her household
carrying her train; the ladies of the Palace; Cambaceres, Duke of Parma,
Archchancellor of the Empire; Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchatel and
of Wagram, Vice-Constable; Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento, Vice Grand
Elector; Prince Borghese, Duke of Guastalla; Prince Eugene, Viceroy of
Italy; the Hereditary Grand Duke of Frankfort; Prince Joseph Napoleon,
King of Spain; Prince Jerome Napoleon, King of Westphalia;--the Emperor
under a canopy, upheld by canons: to the right and left of the canopy,
his aides; behind the canopy the Colonel commanding the Guard on
duty, the Grand Marshal of the Palace, and the First Almoner; the
ladies-in-waiting of the Princesses, the ladies and officers of Their
Imperial Highnesses on duty.

When the procession had taken their places according to their rank,
the Grand Almoner intoned the _Veni Creator_, and the governess having
carried the child to the railing of the choir, he went through the
preliminary rites, and then took place the baptism. As soon as the
Imperial child had been baptized, the governess placed him in the hands
of the Empress; the First Herald-at-Arms advanced to the middle of the
choir and called out three times, "Long live the King of Rome!" Cheers
and applause, which till that moment had been restrained by the sanctity
of the ceremony and the solemnity of the place, then broke forth on all
sides. While they lasted, Marie Louise stood with the child in her arms;
the Emperor then took him and held him aloft, that all might see him.

Thiers thus comments in a page of real eloquence on this imposing
spectacle: "What a solemn mystery surrounds human life! What a painful
surprise it would have been, if beyond this scene of power and
greatness, one could have seen the ruin, the blood, the flames of
Moscow, the ice of the Beresina and Leipsic, Fontainebleau, Elba, Saint
Helena, and finally the death of this prince at the age of twenty, in
exile, without one of the crowns he wore that day upon his head, and the
many revolutions once more to raise his family after overthrowing
it! What a blessing that the future is hidden from man! But what a
stumbling-block for his prudence, charged to conjecture the morrow and
to guard against it with all one's wisdom."

When the governess had again taken the Prince, she courtesied to the
Emperor, and the King of Rome, with his retinue, left the church, to be
taken to the Archbishop's, whence he returned to the Tuileries. Then the
Grand Almoner intoned the _Te Deum_, which, was performed by the choir,
and followed by the _Domine, fac salvum imperatorem_. The Emperor
and the Empress were conducted with the same ceremonies as at their
entrance, to the church door, where they got into their carriage amid
the cheers of the crowd, and drove to the entertainment at the Hotel de
Ville.

"The people of Paris admitted to this festivity," says Thiers, "were
able to see Napoleon at table, his crown on his head, surrounded by the
kings of his family and a number of foreign princes, eating in public,
like the old Germanic Emperors, the successors of the Emperors of
the West. The Parisians applauded in their delight at this brilliant
spectacle, imagining that durability was united with grandeur and with
glory! They did well to rejoice, for these joys were the last of the
reign. Henceforth our story is but one long lamentation."

Napoleon and Marie Louise reached the Hotel de Ville at eight in the
evening. The Prefect of the Seine, after welcoming them with an address,
led them to the rooms prepared for them, and the Emperor received four
sets of presentations. The Grand Marshal of the Palace announced that
dinner was ready. The Imperial banquet was thus arranged: in the middle
of the table, the Emperor; on his left, the Empress, the Queen of
Holland, Princess Borghese, the Grand Duke of Wuerzburg, the Grand Duke
of Frankfort; on his right, his mother, the King of Spain, the King of
Westphalia, Prince Borghese, the Viceroy of Italy. The table was on
a dais. A canopy overhung the chairs of the Emperor and Empress. The
ladies of the Palace and the Imperial retinue sat below the platform,
opposite the table, The officers of the Emperor's household waited
on the table. The hall was decorated with the coats-of-arms of the
forty-nine chosen cities, Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam being the first;
the rest were in alphabetical order. After the dinner, the sovereigns
went into the record-room, where a concert was given, in which was sung
a cantata, called "Ossian's Song," with words by Arnault, and music by
Mehul. Then, after talking to a number of people in the throne-room,
Napoleon and Louise went into the garden which had been constructed
about the courtyard of the Hotel de Ville, where the Tiber was
represented by abundant streams of cool water. They left at eleven, and
thereupon was opened a ball which lasted till daybreak. In the morning
poor young girls, with dowries given by the city, had been married
to soldiers in every arrondissement. The whole city was alive with
enthusiasm. Food had been given away on the Champs Elysees, there had
been sports in the square of Marigny, tournaments, greased poles,
public balls, balloon ascension, fireworks, a general illumination, and
everything of the sort for the amusement of the populace.

On the 9th of June there were grand festivities in the large towns of
the Empire, in honor of the baptism of the King of Rome. At Antwerp all
the arts and trades contributed to making six chariots, which made
an imposing procession. The first represented France crowned by
Immortality; the second, the marriage of the Emperor and Empress; the
third, the birth of the King of Rome; the fourth, his cradle; the fifth,
Religion, Innocence, and Charity praying Heaven for a long life to the
sovereigns and their son; the sixth, France representing the young
Prince as King to the city of Rome. This procession of chariots was
preceded by the giant, the whale, the frigate, the car of Neptune, that
of Europe, and other figures called in their language _den grooten
hommegang_.

At Rome, the city of the Prince, festivities began in the night of June
8, being announced by guns of the fleet of Civita Vecchia, which had
sailed up the Tiber, all beautifully decorated. The Capitol, the Forum,
the Coliseum, the arches of Septimius and Constantine, the temples of
Concord, of Peace, of Antoninus, and Fausta, the Column of Jupiter
Stator, were all brilliantly illuminated. In the morning of the 9th all
the authorities went to Saint Peter's to hear the _Te Deum_ sung before
an immense multitude. In the course of the day there was a horse-race,
and in the evening the dome of Saint Peter's and the Colonnade were
illuminated, and there were fireworks at the Castle of Saint Angelo.
The Rome of the Caesars and the Popes, the Eternal City, celebrated the
baptismal day of its young King with great splendor.

XXII.

SAINT CLOUD AND TRIANON.

The Emperor had determined that there could not be too much rejoicing at
his son's baptism; consequently he gave an entertainment himself, June
23,1811, in the palace and park of Saint Cloud. The palace, with its
magnificent halls, its drawing-rooms of Mars, Venus, Truth, Mercury, and
Aurora, its Gallery of Apollo, and Room of Diana, adorned with Mignard's
frescoes; the park, with its fine trees, its wonderful stretches, its
greensward, and abundant flowers; the two grand views from the
upper windows, one towards Paris, the other towards the garden; the
waterfalls, set in a tasteful frame, and rushing down step by step,
breaking into a white foam, sparkling in the sunlight or with the
reflection of a thousand torches, formed a marvellous setting for a
festival both by night and by day. More than three hundred thousand
persons went to Saint Cloud; they began to arrive in the morning, and
filled every avenue, covered every bit of rising ground. Food was
publicly distributed; the fountains ran wine. Games and sports of all
kinds were played, and the Imperial Guard gave an open-air banquet to
the garrison of Paris.

At six in the evening Napoleon and Marie Louise drove in an open
barouche through the park, without guard or escort, to the great delight
of the applauding multitude. The orange house, which had been stripped
of its contents for the decoration of the front of the palace, was
adorned with stuffs of fine colors. Temples and kiosks had been set
up in the shrubbery. At nightfall six illuminated launches, manned
by sailors of the Imperial Guard, performed various evolutions and
discharged fireworks, which made a brilliant show upon the river.
Meanwhile the illuminations began throughout the park, along the
terraces, and the amphitheatre, and in the palace. It was a most
fairy-like sight; the large cascade with its half-lying statues of the
Seine and the Loire; the lower cascade beneath; the fountain rising
twenty-seven metres; the large square basin with the ten little
shell-shaped basins and the nine fountains spurting from gilded masques;
the green lawns, the flower-beds, the shrubbery,--all lit up by the
blazing fireworks. At nine o'clock Madame Blanchard went up in a
balloon, discharging fireworks from the car, which formed a starlike
crown set at a great height; she seemed like a magician in a fiery
chariot. Fireworks were then set off by the artillery of the Imperial
Guard from the middle of the Plain of Boulogne; they were visible from
Paris as from Saint Cloud, and from all the hills bordering the
Seine from Calvaire to Meudon. Next to the row of columns opened the
illuminated garden, with waterfalls, trees, and porticoes, forming a
most brilliant spectacle. The Emperor and Empress walked through the
park, and Marie Louise was continually reminded of her beloved Austria,
of Schoenbrunn, of the Burg, of Laxenburg, by the wonderful panorama.
There were many bands stationed among the trees, playing waltzes, and
dancers from the opera, dressed as German shepherds and shepherdesses,
were dancing. An interlude, "The Village Festival," words by Etienne,
set to music by Nicolo, was given in the open air, on the grass. When
the Empress came to a column supporting a basket of flowers, a dove alit
at her feet and offered her an ingenious motto.

The weather had been tolerably pleasant all day; but it became stormy in
the evening; the air grew heavy: there could be seen neither moon nor
stars. There had just been illuminated, opposite the grand cascade, a
model of the palace intended for the King of Rome,--this palace the
Emperor meant to build on the high ground of Chaillot, with the Bois de
Boulogne for its park,--when suddenly the storm that had been slowly
gathering burst upon the heads of the vast crowd in the park. There were
there deputations from all the large towns of the vast empire which
reached from Cuxhaven to Rome; the men in costly velvet coats, the women
in dresses of embroidered silk. The Emperor at the moment happened to be
talking in the doorway between the drawing-room and the garden; near him
was the Mayor of Lyons, to whom he said, "I am going to benefit your
manufactures." Then he remained standing in the doorway. The courtiers
received the shower with bare heads and smiling faces. Possibly some
might have said that the rain of Saint Cloud, like the rain of Marly,
did not wet.

Of course no one had an umbrella. Prince Aldobrandini, the Empress's
First Equerry, managed to procure one, which he held over her. Count
Remusat found another, and for an hour he was coming and going, between
the park and the palace, to bring as many ladies as possible under
shelter. The entertainment could not go on; every one was wet through.
The musicians could not play on their dripping instruments. The Emperor
and the Empress withdrew at eleven, and both the court and the people
had gloomy memories of this festivity which began so well and ended so
badly. Superstitious and ill-disposed persons fancied that they saw an
evil omen in this; they recalled the disastrous ball at the Austrian
Embassy, and said that the storm broke just at the very moment when the
palace of the King of Rome was illuminated. But what difference could a
simple shower make to a people accustomed to streams of blood?

August 15, 1811, there was a brilliant celebration at Saint Cloud and
Paris, as well as throughout the Empire, of the festival of the great
and the small Napoleon. August 25 was the birthday of the Empress
Marie Louise, and this was celebrated at the two Trianons, which were
full of memories of Louis XIV. and of Marie Antoinette. The Grand
Trianon, graceful and majestic, though but a single story high, and the
Little Trianon, charming, though but a simple small square, of no regal
aspect, were enchanted palaces on Marie Louise's birthday. The two
buildings, the belvedere, the little lakes, the island and Temple of
Love, the village, the octagonal pavilion, the theatre, were all aglow.
It seemed as if Marie Antoinette were alive again, and to the Empress
Delille's lines could have applied as well as to the Queen:--

"Like its August and youthful deity,
Trianon combines grace with majesty:
For her it adorns itself, is by her adorned."

It was only twenty-two years since Marie Antoinette had been there, and
many of the lords and ladies who adorned Napoleon's court as they had
adorned that of Louis XVI. could not see without emotion this fairy-like
recall of the brilliant days of the old regime. The French nobility had
an opportunity to make many reflections on revisiting the Little Trianon
which aroused many memories. It was less than eighteen years since there
had perished on the scaffold the charming sovereign who had been the
idol, the goddess, of this little temple; and now new festivities were
beginning; another Austrian archduchess occupied the place of the martyred
Queen. There was the Swiss village, of which Louis XVI. had been
the miller, the Count of Provence the schoolmaster, the Count of Artois
the gamekeeper, the village with its merry mill, the dairy where the
cream filled porphyry vessels on marble tables, the laundry where the
clothes were beaten with ebony sticks, the granary to which led mahogany
ladders, the sheep-house where the sheep were shorn with golden shears.
They saw once more the grass sprinkled with flowers, the clear water,
the trees of all colors from dark green to cherry-red; larches and pink
acacias, cedars of Lebanon, sophoras from China, poplars from Athens,
and they said that Time, which shatters a sceptre, respects a shrub.
Everything else had changed; the garden was still the same.

All day long the gloomy solitude of Versailles had been crowded anew
as if by magic. A countless multitude thronged its long, wide avenues,
which had been almost deserted since October, 1789. The festivities
of the former monarchy appeared to have begun again. At three in the
afternoon a rather heavy shower had fallen, and it seemed as if the day
and evening would end gloomily; but on the contrary, the rain was but
brief and only freshened the air, and made the festival pleasanter. The
setting sun lit up the great king's town, and at night many-colored
lamps decorated the Grand Trianon. Six hundred women in rich dresses,
and ablaze with jewelry, gathered in the gallery of that palace. The
Empress spoke to many of them, and it was noticed how well she had
become acquainted with French society, although she had been in the
country but fifteen months; and with what kindness and dignity she
addressed them.

Then they went to the theatre of the Little Trianon, a perfect jewel, a
gem, with its two Ionic columns, its pediment in which Love is holding a
lyre and a laurel wreath; and its ceiling representing Olympus, the work
of Lagrenee; and its curtain, on which are two nymphs supporting Marie
Antoinette's coat-of-arms. It was there that, August 19, 1785, the Queen
played Rosina, in "The Barber of Seville," and that the Count of Artois
uttered those ominous words as Figaro, "I try to laugh at everything,
lest I should have to weep at everything." Before Napoleon and Marie
Louise there was given a piece composed for the occasion by Alissan de
Chazet: it was called "The Gardener of Schoenbrunn." After it was a
pretty ballet given by the dancers of the Opera.

When this was over, the Emperor and Empress walked through the gardens
of the Little Trianon, which were illuminated. Napoleon, with his hat in
his hand, gave his arm to Marie Louise. They visited the island and the
marble Temple of Love, in which is Bouchardon's statue of Love carving
his bow into the club of Hercules. There was soft music from concealed
performers, which seemed to rise from the bottom of the lake, on which
floated illuminated boats full of children disguised as cupids. Then
they walked further in the garden, and watched a _tableau vivant_,
representing Flemish peasants. This was succeeded by groups representing
the people of the different provinces of the Empire in their national
dress, from the Tiber to the North Sea. The celebration ended with a
supper in the gallery of the Grand Trianon. All those who had known the
place in the old regime agreed that the festival was a perfect success;
and Marie Louise, who was becoming more and more at home in France, was
sure that her birthday had never been celebrated with anything like such
magnificence.

XXIII.

THE TRIP TO HOLLAND.

A short time after Wagram Napoleon had been heard, in a levee at which
his generals were present, to lament the bloody campaigns in which he
always lost some of his early companions. "I have been a soldier long
enough," he went on; "it's time for me to be a king." During 1811 he
seemed faithful to this new programme. The soldier had become a monarch,
and the hero of so many battles seemed to be desirous of the glories of
peace. He determined to make a trip in Belgium and Holland and along the
banks of the Rhine, where he should see for himself what the happiness
of the people required. The Empress made the journey with him, but
Napoleon started from Compiegne without her, September 19; she was to
join him on the 30th at Antwerp. At this time she was so attached to him
that she could not endure a separation of only a few days, and she wrote
to her father: "My husband has left to-night to go to the island of
Walcheren, which has the worst climate in the world, so that I could
not go with him, for which I am extremely sorry." While the Emperor was
visiting Boulogne, Ostend, and Flushing, the Queen made her way, with
a magnificent court, to Belgium. She left Compiegne, September 22, and
took up her residence at the castle at Laeken, near Brussels. She often
visited the Belgian capital, which then was only the chief town of a
French department,--the department of the Dyle. Napoleon made a great
point of her appearing in all splendor in the provinces which had
previously been governed by the house of Austria. She went to the
theatre, where she was warmly greeted, and purchased a hundred and fifty
thousand francs' worth of lace to revive the manufactures of the city.
September 30 she joined her husband at Antwerp. The _Moniteur_ thus
spoke of the way the Emperor had transformed this city: "Antwerp may be
considered as a fortress of the rank of Metz and Strasbourg. The work
which has been done there is enormous. On the left bank of the Scheldt,
where two years ago there was only a redoubt, there has risen a city
twelve thousand feet long, with eight bastions.... The view from
the dockyard is unparalleled; twenty-one men-of-war, eight of them
three-deckers, are building. The arsenal is fully provided with
provisions of all sorts brought down the Rhine and the Meuse.

"Seven years ago," continues the _Moniteur_, "there was not a single
quay in Antwerp, and the houses came down to the river's edge. To-day,
in the place of these houses, are superb quays, of service to the
commerce and to the defence of the place. Six years ago there was no
basin, but only a few canals where boats drawing ten or twelve feet
could scarcely enter. To-day there is a basin twenty-six feet deep at
the bank, able to hold ships-of-the-line, with a lock for the admission
of ships carrying a hundred and twenty guns."

The formal entrance into Amsterdam took place October 9, 1811. The
former capital of Holland was merely the chief town of a French
department,--the department of the Zuyder Zee. The Dutch were suffering
a good deal from the Embargo, and sorely missed King Louis Bonaparte,
who had in vain tried to alleviate their sufferings. When they came
under the dominion of the Emperor, he had appointed Lebrun, Duke of
Piacenza, their governor general. Of him, Count Beugnot says in his
Memoirs, "He was doubtless a superior man, but he found it easier to
translate Homer and Tasso, and to treat with wonderful ease the most
difficult questions of political economy, than to console a Dutchman for
the loss of ten florins."

The discontent of the Dutch only strengthened Napoleon's desire to
please and win them. "It seemed at that time," M. Beugnot goes on, "as
if Heaven had given him every means of securing happiness. A son
had just been born to him, whose future the poets were justified in
foretelling in their own way. The child who inspired the Mantuan poet
with the idyl, or rather with the magnificent prophecy, _Sicelides
Musae_, etc., was but an humble creature by the side of this infant,
who to the most impressive pride of race added enormous, newly acquired
glory, such as the world had never seen." The happy Emperor fancied that
by showing himself with the mother of the King of Rome to the Dutch and
Germans, he should silence their complaints, wipe out their memories of
national independence, and arouse an enthusiasm that would make them
forget their sufferings and losses. Their welcome was of a sort to
confirm him in this belief. The peaceful populace of Amsterdam forgot
their usual phlegm, and cheered the mighty monarch and his young wife.
The Empress entered the city in a gilded carriage with glass sides, and
she was met by a guard of honor composed of young men belonging to the
first families of Holland. The Emperor followed on horseback,
surrounded by a brilliant staff. Their stay at Amsterdam was marked by
extraordinary pomp; the company of the Theatre Francais was brought
thither from Paris, and Talma appeared as Bayard and as Orosmane. The
court made a stay of a fortnight, the Emperor making short excursions to
Helder, one of his creations, to Texel, and to the dykes of Medemblik,
which protect the country against the Zuyder Zee.

General de Segur, who went on the journey, thus describes it: "It might
naturally be supposed, that in going through Holland, after the last two
attempted assassinations, Napoleon would have taken precautions against
such frequent attacks; but, far from it, he was full of confidence, and
went about alone among these worst victims of the continental system,
mingling every day with the dense crowd that gathered about him. His
sole thought was to study their needs, their manners, and habits,
anxious to see for himself and trusting thoroughly in them. These
northern people hide warm hearts beneath a cold exterior; they are
impressed by greatness, and give it their confidence. Their feelings
are slow, but for that reason surer when once aroused. The Emperor's
enormous fame had preceded him; and the appearance among them of this
genius, all fire and flame, who had come, as he said, to adopt
them, warmed their phlegmatic nature. They were at once filled with
admiration; his presence, his trust in them, his consoling and
encouraging words, the good works at once begun by his active and able
administration, filled them with enthusiasm."

During the three days of the Emperor's absence Marie Louise visited the
neighborhood of Amsterdam. She went to the village of Broek, which lies
a league from the port, on the shores of a little basin surrounded with
flowers and grass, and is in communication with the Zuyder Zee by means
of a small canal. This village is famous as a perfect model of the
attractive luxury and the over-zealous neatness of the Dutch. It is of a
circular shape. The houses, of wood and one story high, are built around
and upon a lake, and are decorated outside with frescoes. Through the
window-glass, which is remarkably clear, it is easy to see the curtains
of Chinese figured silk or of Indian stuff. Within the houses are large
Gothic sideboards, full of costly Japanese porcelain. There are no signs
of use or of wear upon the furniture; every house looks as if it were
the house of the Sleeping Beauty. There are no barns, or stables, or
granaries, or kitchens. Everything connected with animals is banished
from this fairy-like enclosure. Posts at the ends of every street bar
the way against carriages. The pavement is in mosaic, and is covered
with a fine sand, on which are designs of flowers. The inhabitants carry
their sense of neatness so far that they compel every visitor to take
off his shoes and put on slippers on entering a house. One day, when the
Emperor Joseph II. happened to appear in a pair of boots before one of
these curious houses, he was told that he would have to take them off
before he could go in. "I am the Emperor," he said. "Well, if you were
the burgomaster of Amsterdam, you couldn't come in with boots on," was
the reply. Another time Hortense, then Queen of Holland, was not allowed
to enter one of the houses, and King Louis approved, because the Queen
had not sent word that she was coming.

When Marie Louise visited this famous village, the burgomaster, in view
of the importance of the occasion, consented to break the rigid rules
and to permit the Imperial carriage to drive over the mosaic pavement
to his house, where he presented his respects to the Empress. At this
house, as in every one in the village, there are two doors,--one for
daily use, the other opened only for baptisms, marriages, and funerals.
This door, which is called the fatal door, opens into a room which is
always kept shut except on these three occasions. "The Empress," says
M. de Bausset, "asked to have the fatal door opened. We crossed the
threshold with gratified vanity, in the presence of many inhabitants,
who feared to follow us, but who were almost tempted to admire the ease
and courage with which we went in and out. After visiting, admiring,
and praising everything, we left these worthy people delighted with the
touching graces and amiable kindness of their young sovereign."

The Emperor and Empress visited Saardam, where Peter the Great spent
ten months as a workman, to study shipbuilding. Napoleon fell into
meditation before the hut of the famous Czar, as he had done before the
tomb of Frederick the Great. "That is the noblest monument in Holland!"
he said; and in memory of Peter the Great he ordered Saardam to be made
a city.

Napoleon and Marie Louise also spent a few hours at Harlem, a
half-Gothic, half-Japanese town, celebrated by the passion of its
inhabitants for flowers, especially for tulips. October 26, they arrived
at Rotterdam, at Loo on the 27th, and spent the night of the 28th at The
Hague, whence they went to visit the banks of the Rhine. The Emperor
carried away with him a most favorable impression of the Dutch, whose
seriousness, morality, love of order, and industry had continually
struck him, so that he shared his brother Louis's partiality for a
nation as interesting in the present as in the past.

November 2, Napoleon and his wife reached Duesseldorf. This pretty town,
which is picturesquely placed at the junction of the Duessel with the
Rhine, was at that time the capital of the Grand Duchy of Berg, and had
been under the rule of Murat before he was appointed King of Naples; on
this visit the Emperor assigned it to the oldest son of Louis Bonaparte.
Count Beugnot was then ruling the principality, which contained less
than a million inhabitants. He it was who said in his curious and witty
Memoirs: "How easy it would have been to secure the allegiance of the
Germans, who are unable to withstand the attraction of military glory,
for whom an oath of allegiance is a mere nothing, and who felt for
France an affection which we cruelly drove out of them!... Germany,
which always admires the marvellous, long preserved its admiration for
the Emperor. At that time this was so general, that a breath would have
blown over the Prussian monarchy, which neither the armies nor the
memories of the great Frederick, together with the invincible legion of
the successor of Peter the Great, could defend."

At Duesseldorf, Napoleon, in accordance with his usual custom, received
all the authorities, civil and military, as well as representatives of
all sects. Among these last was an old white-bearded rabbi a hundred
years old, who was so anxious to see the Emperor that he had himself
carried to the reception. He entered, supported on one side by the
parish priest, on the other, by the Protestant clergyman. This union
of the three creeds in homage to their sovereign did not displease the
Emperor, strange as it was. Count Beugnot's Memoirs must be consulted
for a full account of the activity, the interest in details, the
minuteness of the administrative investigations which, at Duesseldorf as
everywhere else, characterized Napoleon in these laborious journeys, on
which, under pretext of seeking distraction, he kept himself in almost
as active movement as if he were at war. The Count who once played whist
at Duesseldorf with Marie Louise for his partner, against the Duchess
of Montebello and the Prince of Neufchatel, says in speaking of the
occasion: "As often happens, the game was carelessly played; all watched
the cards only with their eyes, and gave their attention to what was
going forward about the table, to which the Emperor came every few
minutes to say a few pleasant words to the Empress or to joke with the
Prince of Neufchatel and me. I was too busy, both during the dinner and
while we were playing, to make any study of the Empress's tastes or to
form from them a judgment about her character. The journey had been
long; she seemed tired and out of sorts. She answered the Emperor only
in monosyllables, and the other by a somewhat monotonous nod of the
head. I may be mistaken, but I am inclined to believe that Her Majesty
is not free from the awe which her August husband inspires in all who
approach him."

After resting for two days at Duesseldorf, Napoleon and Marie Louise
went on to Cologne, when they visited the Chapel of the Eleven Thousand
Virgins, and a grand _Te Deum_ was sung in the famous Cathedral, They
returned by Liege, Givet, Mezieres, and Compiegne, reaching Saint Cloud
after an absence of nearly three months,--the longest visit that the
Emperor had made in the provinces of either the old or the new France.
Everywhere he had met with the expression of two distinct but somewhat
different sentiments: for the Empress, an affectionate respect; for
himself, the sort of violent sensation that a man who is a living wonder
always produces. XXIV.

NAPOLEON AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS POWER.

At the beginning of 1812 Napoleon had reached the height of his power.
Before we watch his decline, it may be well to consider him at the
summit of his fortune, in the fulness of his force, might, and glory. In
his career there were two distinctly marked periods,--the democratic and
the aristocratic. In the early days of the Empire the first one had not
yet come to an end. The coins of that time still bore the stamp, "French
Republic. Napoleon Emperor." He himself resembled Caesar rather than
Charlemagne: he granted no hereditary titles, and associated with but
few of the emigres; he was still, in many ways, a man of the Revolution.
In 1812, on the other hand, he had given his authority a sort of feudal
character, and revived many points of resemblance with the Carlovingian
epoch. Charlemagne had become his model, his ideal. The saviour of the
Convention, the friend of the young Robespierre, was busily introducing
much of the imperial and military splendor of the Middle Ages. The
continental sovereigns treated him with so much consideration that he
regarded himself as their superior rather than as an equal. He
called them his brothers; but he thought that he was more than a
brother--something like the head of a family of kings. The Kings of
Bavaria, of Wuertemberg, of Saxony, of Spain, of Naples, of Westphalia,
who all owed their crowns to him, were indeed his subordinates. As
the Princes of the Confederation of the Rhine, the vassals of their
protector, they despatched their contingents to him with as much zeal
and punctuality as if they had been plain prefects of the Empire.

The emigres crowded the drawing-rooms of the Tuileries. One might have
thought one's self at Coblenz. Those men who belonged to the old regime
were especially appreciated. The one of his aides-de-camp who most
pleased the Emperor was perhaps the Count of Narbonne, knight of honor
of one of the daughters of Louis XV., Minister of War under Louis XVI.
The most rigid, the most precise etiquette prevailed in the Imperial
residences. The high dignitaries and marshals concealed their plebeian
names under pompous titles of princes and dukes. Madame de Mailly, the
widow of a marshal of the royal period, had been admitted to the rank
and privileges of the wives of the grand officers of the crown, and had
figured as a marshal's widow, at the reception of January 1, 1811. The
court of Versailles appeared to have revived.

Napoleon preferred to derive his power from divine right than from
the will of the nation. "He was much struck," Metternich says in his
Memoirs, "by the idea of ascribing the origin of supreme power to divine
choice. One day at Compiegne, soon after his marriage, he said to me, 'I
notice that when the Empress writes to her father, she addresses him as
His Holy Imperial Highness. Is that your usual way?' I told him he was
so addressed from the tradition of the old Germanic Empire, and because
he also wore the apostolic crown of Hungary. Napoleon then said with
some solemnity, 'It is a noble and excellent custom. Power derives from
God, and that is the only way it can be secure from human assault. Some
time or other I shall adopt the same title.'"

At about the same time, in conversation with M. Mole about the houses
building in Paris, on being asked when he intended to give his attention
to the Church of the Madeleine, the Emperor said, "Well, what is
expected of me?" M. Mole told him that he had heard that it was intended
for a Temple of Glory. "That's what people think, I know," said
Napoleon; "but I mean it for a memorial in expiation of the murder of
Louis XVI." He said to Metternich: "When I was young I favored the
Revolution out of ignorance and ambition. When I came to the age of
reason I followed its counsels and my own instinct, and crushed the
Revolution." At another time he said: "The French throne was empty.
Louis XVI. had not been able to hold it. If I had been in his place,
in spite of the immense progress it had made in men's minds during the
previous reigns, the Revolution would not have triumphed. When the King
fell, the Republic took its place; and I set that aside. The former
throne was buried under the ruins; I had to make a new one."

According to Prince Metternich, "One of Napoleon's keenest and most
persistent regrets was that he could not appeal to the principle of
legitimacy as the foundation of his power. Few men have felt like him
the fragility and precariousness of authority without this basis, and
its vulnerability to attacks." One day, in speaking to the Austrian
statesman about the letter he wrote when First Consul to Louis XVIII.,
he said: "His answer was dignified and rich in impressive traditions. In
Legitimists there is something which lies outside of their intelligence.
If he had consulted his intellect alone, he would have come to terms
with me, and I should have treated him most generously."

The Emperor had come to regard himself as the glorious personification
of divine right, and as the defender of all the monarchies. In his eyes
the King of Prussia was only a revolutionary monarch. If we may believe
Chateaubriand, "Frederick William's great crime, according to Bonaparte
the Republican, was this, that he abandoned the cause of the kings. The
negotiations of the Berlin court with the Directory indicated, Bonaparte
used to say, a timid, selfish, undignified policy, which sacrificed his
own position and the general monarchical interests to petty advantages.
When he used to look at the new Prussia on the map he would say, 'Is it
possible that I have left that man so much territory?'"

The philosophers aroused as much horror in Napoleon as the Jacobins.
In his eyes strong minds were weak minds; and though he persecuted the
Pope, he denounced with equal severity attacks on the throne and attacks
on the Church. He especially detested the Voltairian irony, regarding
it as both blasphemous and treasonable. To quote once more from Prince
Metternich: "He had a profound contempt for the false philosophy as well
as for the false philanthropy of the eighteenth century. Of all the
founders of the doctrine it was Voltaire who was his pet aversion, and
he carried his hate so far as to attack on every occasion his general
literary reputation."

Napoleon thought, spoke, and acted as if he had always been Emperor and
King. In the whole world there was no court so magnificent and brilliant
as his. Many kings were admitted to it only as French princes, high
dignitaries of the Empire: Joseph, King of Spain, was a Great Elector;
Murat, King of the Two Sicilies, Lord High Admiral; Louis Bonaparte,
deprived of the throne of Holland, figures in the Imperial Almanac of
1812 in his capacity of Constable. The other high dignitaries at this
epoch were Cambaceres, Duke of Parma, Lord High Chancellor of the
Empire; Lebrun, Duke of Piacenza, Lord High Treasurer, Governor General
of the Departments of Holland; Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of
Italy, Lord High Chancellor of State; Prince Borghese, Governor General
of the Departments beyond the Alps; Marshal Berthier, Prince of
Neufchatel and of Wagram, Vice Constable; Talleyrand, Prince of
Benevento, Vice Great Elector. At the head of his military household,
the Emperor had four colonel-generals of the Imperial Guard, all four
marshals of France, Davoust, Duke of Auerstadt and Prince of Eckmuehl;
Soult, Duke of Dalmatia; Bessieres, Duke of Istria; Mortier, Duke of
Treviso. Moreover, there were ten aides-de-camp, nine of whom were
generals of divisions, and thirteen orderly officers. For Grand Almoner
he had Cardinal Fesch, Archbishop of Lyons, aided by four ordinary
almoners, two archbishops, and two bishops; for Grand Marshal of the
Palace, Duroc, Duke of Frioul; for High Chamberlain, the Count of
Montesquiou Fezensac; for First Equerry, General de Caulaincourt, Duke
of Vicenza; for Chief Huntsman, Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchatel
and of Wagram; for Grand Master of Ceremonies, the Count of Segur,
formerly the Ambassador of Louis XVI. to the great Catherine of Russia.
The Emperor had no fewer than ninety chamberlains, among whom figured
these among other great names of the old regime: an Aubusson de la
Teuillade, a Galard de Bearn, a Marmier, a d'Alsace, a Turenne, a
Noailles, a Brancas, a Gontaut, a Gramont, a Beauvau, a Sapicha, a
Radziwill, a Potocki, a Choiseul-Praslin, a Nicolay, a Chabot, a La
Vieuville. This aristocratic court knew no lack of amusements. The
winter of 1811-12 was one long succession of pleasures. "It was in the
whirl of these entertainments and festivities of all sorts," says Madame
Durand, first lady-in-waiting to the Empress, "that Napoleon formed
his plan for the conquest of Russia. The spoiled child of fortune,
intoxicated with flattery, never dreaming of the possibility of defeat,
seemed to be calculating his victories in advance, and to regard
pleasures as the preparations for war. Not a day passed without a play,
a concert, or a masked ball at court." The theatrical representations
on the Tuileries' stage were most impressive. The Emperor and Empress
occupied a box opposite the stage. The princes and princesses sat on
each side of them or behind; on the right was the box of the foreign
ambassadors; on the left, that of the French Ministers. A large gallery
was reserved for the ladies of the court, who all dressed magnificently
and wore sparkling jewels. A number of distinguished men filled the pit,
all in court dress, with small-sword, and ribbons and orders. During
the entr'actes the Emperor's liveried footmen carried about ices and
refreshments of various kinds. The hall was most brilliantly lit. The
balls in the great rooms of the first floor, and the dinners in the
Diana Gallery, were equally sumptuous. The Emperor, however, especially
delighted in the masked balls, when, changing his Imperial robes for a
simple domino, he whose police system was so perfect, who knew and
saw everything, used to baffle the women, and tease or surprise their
husbands and lovers.

Everywhere Napoleon used to make himself feared, at a ball as well as in
a meeting of his Ministers. At an entertainment he won as much glory as
on the battle-field. Even those who hated him had to admire him, for he
had a most wonderful power of astounding and fascinating every one.
His aide, General de Narbonne, had an old mother, who maintained her
allegiance to the old royalty. "See here, my dear Narbonne," the Emperor
said one day, "it's a bad thing for me that you see your mother so
often. I understand that she doesn't like me." "True," replied the
crafty courtier, "she hasn't got beyond admiration." This same Count de
Narbonne had been off to preside at an electoral meeting in a department
some distance from Paris. "What do they say about me in the different
departments you have been through?" asked the Emperor. "Sire," replied
M. de Narbonne, "some say you are a god, and others say you are a devil;
but all agree that you are something more than a human being."

A witty observer, who was inclined to witticism rather than to
enthusiasm, said of the Napoleon of 1811: "His genius controlled every
one's thoughts. I believed that he was born to rule Fortune, and it
seemed to be natural enough that people should prostrate themselves
before his feet; that became, in my eyes, the normal way of the world."
Count Beugnot, who was at that time ruling the Grand Duchy of Berg,
adds: "I worked all night with extraordinary zeal, and thereby surprised
the inhabitants, who did not know that the Emperor performed for all
his officers, at whatever distance they might be, the miracle of real
presence. I imagined that I saw him before me, when I was working alone
in my room, and this impression, which sometimes inspired me with
ideas far beyond my powers, more often preserved me from lapses due to
negligence or carelessness. An ancient writer has said that it was of
great service for a man's conduct of life, if he could feel himself in
the presence of a superior being; and I am inclined to believe, that
the Emperor was generally so well served, because, whether through the
precautions he took, or through the influence of his name, which was
uttered everywhere and all the time, every one of his servants saw him
continually at his side."

If Napoleon produced such an effect even at a distance, what an
impression he must have made on those who were near him! Count Miot de
Melito thus describes an Imperial reception in 1811: "Never had the
Tuileries displayed more pomp and magnificence. Never had a greater
number of princes, ambassadors, distinguished foreigners, generals,
splendid in gold, and purple, and jewels, ablaze with orders and ribbons
of every color, offered more obsequious homage or sought with more
eagerness at Versailles for the favor of a word or of a glance. The
Emperor alone seemed free and unconstrained. With an assured step he
passed through the throng of courtiers, who respectfully made way before
him. With a look he transported with rapture or crushed those who
approached him; and if he deigned to speak to any one, the happy mortal
thus honored stood with bowed head and attentive ear, scarcely daring to
breathe or to reply."

Napoleon had then given France so much glory that the loss of liberty
was hardly perceived.

December 19, 1832, Victor Hugo, in a speech before the Court of Commons,
where he was trying to compel the government to let "Le Roi s'amuse" be
given, spoke thus of the Imperial government: "Then, sirs, it is great!
The Empire, in its administration and government, was, to be sure, an
intolerable tyranny, but let us remember that our liberty was largely
paid for with glory. At that time France, like Rome under Caesar,
maintained an attitude at once submissive and proud. It was not the
France we desire, free, ruling itself, but rather a France, the slave of
one man, and mistress of the world. It used to be said, 'On such a day,
at such an hour, I shall enter that capital,' and they entered that day
and at that hour. All sorts of kings used to elbow one another in
his ante-chambers. A dynasty would be dethroned by a decree in the
_Moniteur_. If a column was wanted, the Emperor of Austria used to
furnish the bronze. The control of the French comedians was, I confess,
a little arbitrary, but their orders were dated from Moscow. We were
shorn of all our liberties, I say; there was a rigid censorship, our
books were pilloried, our posters were torn down; but to all our
complaints a single word sufficed for a magnificent reply; they could
answer us with Marengo! Jena! Austerlitz!"

And the poet thus ended his speech: "I have but a few more words to
say, and I hope that you will remember them when you proceed to your
deliberations. They are these: 'In this century there has been only one
great man--Napoleon; and only one great thing--Liberty. We no longer
have the great man; let us try to have the great thing.'"

Certainly he exceeded the common measure, that man of whom
Chateaubriand, his implacable foe, said: "The world belongs to
Bonaparte. What that destroyer could not finish, his fame has seized.
Living, he missed the world; dead, he possesses it. You may protest,
but generations pass by without hearing you." When some one asked the
illustrious author why, after so violently attacking Napoleon, he
admired him so much, the answer was, "The giant had to fall before I
could measure his height."

Those who were nearest to Napoleon regarded him as an almost
supernatural being. The Baron of Meneval, who, before he was the private
secretary of Marie Louise, when regent, had been secretary of the First
Consul and Emperor, thus writes: "By the influence which Napoleon
exercised on his age he was more than a man. Never perhaps will a human
being accomplish greater things than did this privileged creature in so
few years, in the face of so many obstacles; yet these were inferior
to those of which the plans lay in his mighty head. The memory of that
time, of the hours I spent with this wonderful man, seems to me a dream.
In the deep feeling which he arouses in me, I have to bow before
the impenetrable decrees of Providence, which, after inspiring this
wonderful instrument of its plans, tore him from his uncompleted work.
Possibly God did not wish him to anticipate the time He had established
by an invariable order. Possibly He did not wish a mortal to exceed
human proportions!"

If Napoleon was thus admired, even after the terrible catastrophes which
wrought his ruin, even after the retreat from Russia, after the two
invasions, after Waterloo, what an impression he must have made on his
enthusiastic partisans when he was the incarnation of success and glory,
when there was no spot on the sun of his omnipotence, and, protected
by some happy fate, he had disarmed envy, discouraged hate, and so far
bound Fortune that she seemed to tremble before him like an obedient
slave!

In spite of the glory which surrounded him in 1812, Napoleon, who is
often represented as infatuated with himself and his glory, yet even at
this moment of colossal power and unheard-of prosperity, had moments
when he judged himself with perfect impartiality. He knew human nature
thoroughly, and he indulged in no illusions about his family, which
he distrusted, or about his marshals, whose desertion he seemed to
anticipate, or about his courtiers, whose flatteries did not deceive
him. Being convinced that interest is generally the sole motive of
human actions, he expected neither devotion nor gratitude. "One day, in
speaking to my father," says General de Segur, "he asked him what he
thought people would say about him after his death, and my father began
to enlarge on the way we should mourn for him. 'Nothing of the sort!'
interrupted the Emperor; 'you would all say, "Ah!"' and he accompanied
this word with a consolatory gesture which expressed 'at last we can
take a long breath and be at peace.'" It was not after his defeats that
the Emperor said this, but in 1811, when still mighty and successful.

"The Emperor," says General de Segur again, "was not so blind as some
have thought, as to the fate that awaited his gigantic work. He was
often heard to say that his heir would be crushed by the vast bulk of
his empire. 'Poor child!' he said, as he gazed on the King of Rome,
'what a snarl I leave to you.' ... Every one knows the gloomy impression
it makes, when to the vigor and activity of youth there succeeds, with
advancing years, the benumbing influence of stoutness. This transition,
a melancholy warning, came over Napoleon at the end of 1810. Doubtless
this warning of physical decline and weakness rendered him anxious about
the future of a work founded on force. This was apparent when he told
my father: 'The shortest ride now tires me;' and to M. Mollier: 'I am
mortal, and more so than many men;' and again, 'My heir will find my
sceptre very heavy.' As he regarded the future, the only power that
seemed to threaten this sceptre and this heir was Russia, and it may
be that as he began to feel himself grow old, he repented that he had
enlarged its territory both on the north and the south, to the Gulf of
Bothnia and to the Danube. Hence, possibly, this eager desire to deal
the country a blow arose from a spirit of preservation rather than from
one of conquest, and the charge of an overweening and uncontrollable
ambition is thus somewhat refuted." This observation is not wholly
inaccurate. It may be that if the Emperor had had no son, he would not
have made the Russian campaign, and possibly it was more by a mistaken
calculation than by pride, that he was drawn into this colossal war
which, he hoped, would bring the whole continent, and consequently
England, under his control.

A great deal has been said about Napoleon's pride; but in discussing
the matter it is necessary to distinguish between two very different
personages,--the man as he appeared in public, and the man as he was
in private. In public, he was obliged to display more majesty than any
other sovereign. The novelty of his grandeur made additional formality
necessary. When the general became Emperor, he was compelled to keep at
a distance his old fellow-soldiers who had formerly been his equals
and intimates, for familiarity would have lowered his glory and have
lessened his authority. He had to appear before his court like a living
statue that never descended from its pedestal. It was hard to detect a
human heart beating under the sovereign's Imperial robes. Yet in private
life he was by no means what he seemed in public; when he returned to
his own rooms, he laid aside his official seriousness as if he were
taking off a fatiguing uniform, and became affable and familiar. He
used to joke, and sometimes even noisily. He was no longer a haughty
potentate, a terrible conqueror, but rather a good husband who was kind
to his wife, and a good father who played with his child. He used to
tease the companions of Marie Louise wittily, and without malice; he
would take an interest in their dresses, and often give them bits of
good advice in the gentlest manner. He took as much interest in the
minutest details as in the greatest questions. He was indulgent and
generous to his officials, and knew how to make himself loved by them.
He and Marie Louise lived most happily together, as his valet de
chambre, Constant, tells us, "As father and husband he might have been a
model for all his subjects." He simply adored his son, and knew how to
play with him better than did the Empress. As Madame Durand says: "Being
without experience with children, Marie Louise never dared to hold or
pet the King of Rome; she was afraid of hurting him: consequently, he
became more attached to his governess than to his mother--a preference
which at last made Marie Louise a little jealous. The Emperor, on the
other hand, used to take him in his arms every time he saw him, play
with him, hold him before a looking-glass, and make all sorts of faces
at him. At breakfast, he used to hold him on hi knees, and would dip
one of his fingers in a sauce, and let the child suck it, and rub it all
over its face. If the governess complained, the Emperor would laugh,
and the child, who was almost always merry, seemed to like his father's
noisy caresses. It is a noteworthy fact that those who had any favor
to ask of the Emperor when he was thus employed were almost sure of a
favorable reception. Before he was two years old the young Prince was
always present at Napoleon's breakfast."

At this period of his life Napoleon was really happy. The two years that
he spent in the society of the young Empress formed a blessed rest in
his stormy career; he loved his wife and thought that she loved him. He
was grateful to her for being an archduchess, for her beauty, youth,
and health; for having given him an heir to the Empire. He continually
rejoiced in a marriage which, to be sure, inspired him with many
illusions, but yet gave him at least some moments of moral repose and
domestic calm, which are of importance in the life of such a man. Why
was he not wise enough to stop and give thanks to Providence, instead of
continuing his perilous course and forever tempting fortune? How
many evils he would have spared France, Europe, and himself! A few
concessions would have disarmed his adversaries, have satisfied
Germany, have consolidated the Austrian alliance, strengthened the
thrones, and brought about a lasting and general peace. We may say that
Napoleon was his own worst enemy, and that when he held his happiness in
his hand he willingly let it drop on the ground. It was not his second
marriage that ruined him, but rather the over-bold combination which led
him to extend the line of his military operations from Cadiz to Moscow.

XXV.

MARIE LOUISE IN 1812.

Empress Marie Louise was twenty, December 12, 1811. Early in 1812 she,
like Napoleon, was at the summit of her fortune. During the two years of
her reign she had received nothing but homage in France, and no woman in
the whole world held so lofty a position. We will try to draw a portrait
of her at this time when she had reached the top of the wave of human
prosperity.

Rather handsome than pretty, Marie Louise was more impressive than
charming. Her most striking quality was her freshness; her whole person
bespoke physical and moral health. Her face was more gentle than
striking; her eyes were very blue and full of animation; she had a rich
complexion; her hair was light yellow, but not colorless; her nose,
slightly aquiline; her red lips were a trifle thick, like those of all
the Hapsburgs; her hands and feet were models of beauty; she had an
impressive carriage, and was a little above the medium height. When she
arrived in France, she was a little too stout, and her face was a little
too red; but after the birth of her child these two slight imperfections
disappeared. With a more delicate figure she became more graceful, and
no woman ever had a finer complexion. Being endowed with a most sturdy
constitution, she owed all her beauty to nature and nothing to artifice;
her face needed no paint, her wit no coquetry; with no fondness for
luxury or dress, possessing simple and quiet tastes, never striving for
effect, always preferring half-tints to a blaze of light, her expression
and demeanor always had a quality of simplicity and directness which
fascinated Napoleon, who was very glad to turn from experienced
coquettes to a really natural person.

Those who had supervised Marie Louise's education rightly thought that
the greatest charm in a young girl was innocence. She had been brought
up with the most scrupulous care. The books to be placed in the hands of
the archduchesses were first carefully read, and any improper passages
or even words were excised; no male animals were admitted into their
apartments, but only females, these being endowed with more modest
instincts. Napoleon, who was accustomed to the women of the end of the
eighteenth century and to the heroines of the court of Barras, was
delighted to find a girl so pure and so carefully trained.

On grand occasions Marie Louise bore no resemblance to the Marie Louise
in private life; she assumed a coldness which was mistaken for disdain.
She became imposing; she weighed every word; and careless observers
attributed to haughtiness what was really due to reserve and timidity.
The young Empress had every reason to distrust the French court. She
knew what it had cost her great-aunt, Marie Antoinette, to try to live
on the throne like a private person, and to carry kindliness even to
familiarity. The best way for the Empress to escape malevolence and
criticism was by saying very little. She knew French very well, but it
was not her mother-tongue, and however well acquainted with its grammar,
she could not know perfectly the fine shades of the language. Her fear
of employing possibly correct but unusual expressions made her timid
about speaking. Besides, her husband would not have liked to see her
taking part in long conversations. Political subjects were forbidden
to her, and her great charm in Napoleon's eyes was that she did not
interfere in such matters. She never tried to pass for a witty woman.
Although she was well-read, she lacked the delicate observation, the
ingenious comparisons, the jingling of brilliant phrases or words which
compose what in France is called wit. She had no confidence in
the character of the prominent Frenchwomen, of the romantic but
unsentimental beauties who always expressed more than they felt, who
knew how to faint when fainting would be of use to them, and who in
their drawing-rooms, and especially in their boudoirs, bore too close a
resemblance to actresses upon the stage. Marie Louise never assumed
any feelings or ideas which were not genuine. She was always natural.
Comparing his two wives, Napoleon at Saint Helena said: "One was art and
grace; the other, innocence and simple nature. My first wife never, at
any moment of her life, had any ways or manners that were not agreeable
and attractive. It would have been impossible to find any fault with
her in this respect; she tried to make only a favorable impression, and
seemed to attain her end without study. She employed every possible art
to adorn herself, but so carefully that one could only suspect their
use. The other had no idea that there was anything to be gained by these
innocent artifices. One was always a little inexact; her first idea was
to deny everything: the other never dissimulated, and hated everything
roundabout. My first wife never asked for anything, but she ran up debts
right and left; my second always asked for more when she needed it,
which was seldom. She never bought anything without feeling bound to pay
for it on the spot. But both were kind, gentle, and devoted to their
husband."

Marie Louise did not shine in a drawing-room like Josephine; that would
have required a French tact which she did not in the least possess. The
first Empress was thoroughly familiar with French society, which the
second did not know at all. Josephine had seen the last brilliancy of
the old regime and the golden days of the Revolution; she had been a
conspicuous figure in that brilliant but, above all, amusing period, of
which Talleyrand said, "No one who did not live before 1789 knows how
charming life can be." As Viscountess of Beauharnais, she was intimate
with the most intelligent persons in Paris. Though far less educated
than Marie Louise, her conversation was more animated and had a wider
range. No subject was too deep for her; and although she never said
anything very important, she always could give what she had to say an
agreeable turn. Her most ardent desire was to make people forget, by her
fascinations, that she was not born to the throne, and she seemed always
endeavoring to be pardoned for her elevation into the society of the
Faubourg Saint Germain. The names of the great French families always
made much more impression on her, who had risen from the people, than on
Marie Louise, who by birth as well as position could look down on all
the French ladies without exception. It was not those who had belonged
to the old regime whom she preferred; Madame Lannes was far more
congenial to her than the Princess of Beauvau or the Countess of
Montesquieu. She never sought to flatter the Faubourg Saint Germain, but
rather kept it at a distance, making none of the advances to which it
was accustomed at the hands of the first Empress. She felt that the
Royalists secretly blamed her for attaching her old coat-of-arms to the
new fortune of Bonaparte. She belonged to a race which had never felt a
warm love for the Bourbons; while Josephine, who was born in a family of
Royalists, had remained faithful, even when on the Imperial throne, to
her devotion to the old Royalty. Marie Louise indulged in no illusions.
She knew that the courtiers, under the appearance of adoration which
amounted to servility, were really concealing a depth of malice and
ill-will, which was the more dangerous the more it was hidden, and that
the very ones who were burning incense before her would be the most
delighted to catch her tripping. Hence she was always on her guard,
and in public steadily maintained an attitude of cold benevolence and
discreet reserve. Napoleon loved her, for the very reason that her
qualities were the exact opposite of those of Josephine; and if she had
striven to copy the former Empress, she would only have sunk in her
husband's estimation. He had bidden her never to forget that she was a
sovereign, as he was always Emperor: she obeyed him, and she did right
to obey him. Strong in her husband's approval,--for he never had
occasion for the slightest reproach,--she persisted in the very prudent
and dignified line of conduct that she had adopted on entering France.
She had every reason to be proud of her success; for so long as she
lived with Napoleon, no whisper of calumny attacked her, no faintest
insinuation was breathed against her morality. At Saint Helena, the
Emperor said, "Marie Louise was virtue itself."

The untiring precision of her demeanor and of her words protected the
Empress from criticism, but aroused no enthusiastic praise. She was more
esteemed than loved; and, in spite of her precocious wisdom, she aroused
no fervent sympathy, none of the enthusiastic admiration which less
reserved, more amiable queens have inspired. Still, no one found fault
with her. Count Miot de Melito, in describing a reception at the
Tuileries in 1811, says: "The Empress entered.... Her face wore a
dignified but somewhat disdainful expression. She walked round the
room, accompanied by the Duchess of Montebello, and spoke agreeably and
pleasantly with a number of people whom she had introduced to her, and
all were gratified by their kindly reception."

The Duke of Rovigo, the Minister of Police, speaks thus in his Memoirs:
"Marie Louise aroused enthusiasm whenever she opened her mouth. Her
success in France was entirely her own work; for I declare, on my honor,
the authorities never adopted any particular methods to secure for her a
warm welcome from the public. When she was to appear in a procession
or at the theatre, all the authorities did was to provide against the
slightest breach of order or propriety; beyond that, nothing was done.
For example, when I was told that she was going to the theatre, I used
to take all the boxes opposite the one she was to occupy, and all others
from which people might stare at her. Then I took the precaution of
sending the tickets for these boxes to respectable families, who were
very glad to use them. In this way I filled the balcony on the days when
the Empress meant to be present. As to any steps towards insuring a
warm welcome from the pit, I simply did not take any. The Empress Marie
Louise was accustomed, when she came before the public, to make three
courtesies, and so gracefully that the applause always broke out with
great warmth before the third. It was she herself who bade me take no
active steps on such occasions." After thus greeting the audience, the
Empress used to sit modestly in the back of the box. To be gazed at
through all the opera-glasses always annoyed her. Her lofty rank, the
pride of her position, which would have filled other women with rapture,
left her almost indifferent.

Marie Louise was certainly attached to Napoleon, but we may doubt
whether she was really in love with him. He was twenty-two years her
senior; and if she was a wife who suited him in every particular,
probably he was not the husband of whom she had dreamed. He possessed
too much power, too much genius, too much majesty; a quiet home would
have pleased her better than the Imperial Olympus, of which he was the
Jupiter, and she the Juno. Doubtless his glory was unrivalled, but
he had won the best part of it through Austrian defeats. Arcola and
Marengo, Austerlitz and Wagram, were names that wounded Austrian ears.
Had she been free to choose, she would perhaps have preferred to this
all-powerful Emperor any petty German prince, who possessed neither
great wealth nor vast territories, but who shared her memories, ideas,
and hopes. Yet she had resolved to love her husband, and she easily
succeeded in so doing. She was grateful for his kindness, his
consideration, his respect; and in her affectionate but not passionate
devotion there was no trace of reluctance. She sincerely thought that
she would always be faithful to him. She was not only attached to him,
she was also jealous of him; the proximity of Josephine annoyed and
disturbed her. In fact, there was something singular in the simultaneous
presence in France of two empresses sharing almost equally the official
honors. Marie Louise knew how popular Josephine was; and this offended
her, although she pitied a woman of whom the rigid laws of public policy
had required so cruel a sacrifice. Possibly, too, she feared that she
could not count too absolutely on the feelings of a man who, for reasons
of state, had abandoned a wife whom a short time before he had really
loved. Who knows, indeed, but what she dreaded the same fate for
herself, in case she should bear no children? She felt really sure only
when she had borne a son. Before that she was so jealous that one day
when she heard that Napoleon had made a visit to Josephine, she was seen
to shed tears, for the first time since her arrival in France. Another
time, when the Emperor had suggested to her to take advantage of the
absence of the first Empress, who had gone to Aix, in Savoy, and to
visit Malmaison, her face suddenly became so sad that Napoleon at once
abandoned the plan. But after the birth of King of Rome, Marie Louise
was no longer jealous. Under the conviction that she had finally
reconciled Austria and France, and that her son was the pledge of the
peace and happiness of all Europe, she thought that she had so well
accomplished her destiny that she could always count on her husband's
affection and gratitude.

Judging by the words of Cardinal Maury, who had been so famous in the
Constituent Assembly, and had been made Archbishop of Paris by the
Emperor, Napoleon was very much in love with his young wife. "It would
be impossible," he wrote to the Duchesa of Abrantes, "to make you
understand how much the Emperor loves our charming Empress. It is love,
but a good love this time. He is in love with her, I tell you, and as he
never was with Josephine; for, after all, he never knew her when she was
young. She was over thirty when they married, while this wife is young
and as fresh as the spring. You will see her, and you will be delighted
with her.... And then if you knew how gay she is, how pleasant, and,
above all, how thoroughly at her ease with all those whom the Emperor
honors with his intimacy! You will see how lovable she is. People used
to talk about the _soirees_ of the Queen of Holland. I assure you the
Empress is very charming for those whom the Emperor admits informally
into the Tuileries. They go there of an evening to pay their court, they
play with Their Majesties reversis or billiards; and the Empress is so
charming, so fascinating, that it is easy to see from the Emperor's eyes
that he is dying to kiss her."

Probably there is some exaggeration in Cardinal Maury's enthusiasm.
Doubtless Marie Louise pleased Napoleon very much, but had she been a
young woman of humble rank, he probably would not have noticed her. What
he especially admired in her was the Archduchess, the daughter of the
German Caesars, and in the feeling she aroused in him there was perhaps
more gratified vanity than real love. He certainly was not attracted
to her by one of those tempests of passion which had drawn him towards
Josephine; he would not have written to his second wife burning letters
like those he wrote to Josephine during the first campaign in Italy. In
his affection for Marie Louise there was something calm and reasonable,
almost paternal; it was the reflection of maturity succeeding to the
impetuous ardor of youth. Yet he had more deference and regard for the
second Empress than for the first. Shortly after her marriage Marie
Louise said to Metternich: "I am sure that in Vienna people think a
great deal about me, and imagine that I live in continual anguish. The
truth often seems improbable. I am not afraid of Napoleon, but I am
beginning to think that he is afraid of me."

It has been said that the Emperor was not perfectly constant to Marie
Louise; but even if he was ever unfaithful, he kept the fact from her
knowledge, and never made his second wife as unhappy as he had made his
first. He used to boast that he cared only for honest men and virtuous
women, and he was anxious that no one should be able to charge him with
setting a bad example. His court had become very strict, at least in
appearance. Decorum prevailed there as rigidly as etiquette.

Marie Antoinette had in fact known less happiness than Marie Louise.
From the moment she entered France she encountered a sullen enmity which
Marie Louise never experienced. The Empress was never denounced for her
Austrian birth as the Queen had been by the opposition. Marie Antoinette
was surrounded by snares and pitfalls which were never prepared for
Marie Louise. Who would have dared to treat Napoleon's wife as the
Cardinal de Rohan treated the wife of Louis XVI.? What could there have
been under the Empire to compare with the affair of the necklace? The
Queen was attacked by pamphlets of all sorts. The Empress was not once
insulted or slandered. The bitterest foes of her husband respected her.
Moreover, Napoleon was far more attractive than Louis XVI., and Marie
Louise was soon a mother, while Marie Antoinette long endured a
barrenness for which she was not to blame.

The happiness of Marie Louise lasted but little more than two years, but
it was all without a cloud. The mistake that historians always make
in discussing celebrities is that they try to make a single portrait
instead of a series of portraits, according to the different ages and
circumstances. What was true in 1812 was no longer true in 1813, still
less so in 1814. Human life has its seasons like the year. Is anything
less like a brilliant spring day than a gloomy winter's day? In his
history of the Restoration, Lamartine has drawn a picture of the Empress
Marie Louise which seems tolerably exact for the period after the
calamities that befell the Empire, but inapplicable to the happy days
of the mother of the King of Rome. "Marie Louise," he writes, "sought
refuge in ceremony, in retreat and silence from the ill-will that
pursued her at every step.... Napoleon loved her from a feeling of
superiority and pride. She was a sign of his alliance with great races;
the mother of his son; and thus she perpetuated his ambition. ... The
public did wrong to demand of Marie Louise passionate returns and
devotion when her nature could inspire her only with a feeling of duty
and respect for a soldier who had regarded her only as a German hostage
and a pledge of posterity. Her constraint lessened her natural charms,
darkened her expression, dimmed her wit, and burdened her heart. She
was looked upon as a foreign decoration attached to the columns of the
throne. Even history, written in ignorance of the truth, and inspired by
the resentment of Napoleon's courtiers, has slandered this sovereign.
Those who knew her will restore, not the stoical, theatric glory which
was demanded of her, but her real nature.... The alleged emptiness
of her silence hid feminine thoughts and mysteries of feeling which
transported her far from this court. Magnificent though cruel exile!...
She could not pretend anything, either during the days of her grandeur,
nor after her husband's overthrow; that was her crime. The
theatrical world of the court wanted to see a pretence of conjugal
affection in a victor's captive. She was too natural to simulate love
where she felt only obedience, terror, and resignation. History will
blame her; nature will pity her.... She was expected to play a part; she
failed as an actress, but as a woman she has survived."

The Marie Louise who is thus described by Lamartine is not the Marie
Louise of the beginning of 1812; then the young Empress did not regard
herself as "a victor's captive," nor as "a foreign decoration attached
to the columns of the throne." Napoleon did not inspire her with terror,
and she knew none of the constraint which "lessened her natural charms,
darkened her expression, dimmed her wit, and burdened her heart." She
did not look upon her court as a "magnificent but rude exile." These
thoughts may have occurred to her in misfortune, but hardly, we think,
before the Russian campaign. If Lamartine had read the letters which she
wrote to her father in 1810, 1811, and the beginning of 1812, he would
doubtless have acknowledged that for some time Napoleon's second wife
was happy on the French throne.

To this portrait drawn by the great poet we prefer the one we find in
Meneval's Memoirs: "The better Napoleon learned to know the Empress, the
more he applauded his choice. Her character seemed made for him; she
brought him happiness and consolation amid the cares of his stormy
career. In ordinary life she was simple and kindly, yet with no loss of
dignity. No word of complaint or blame ever crossed her lips. Gentle,
but reserved and discreet, she never expressed her feelings with any
vivacity. She was kind and generous, simple and astute at the same time;
her gayety was gentle, her wit without malice. Though well-informed, she
made no parade of her acquirements, fearing to be accused of pedantry.
Her wifely devotion had won the Emperor's affection, and her unfailing
gentleness had attracted all his friends. In this estimate I am
confirmed by my recollections, and I am not inspired by any partiality,
by what has happened, or by any present interest. It would be a mistake
to suppose that her duty and her inclinations were at variance; she was
perfectly natural and could not conceal her real impressions; but events
have shown that while she inclined to virtue when it was easy, she yet
lacked the strength to practise it when it was hard."

Marie Louise did not have the character of her great-grandmother
Marie Therese, or that of her great-aunt Marie Antoinette. She rather
resembled the wife of Louis XIV. or that of Louis XV. She would have led
a calm, modest, harmless life, like those two queens, if her fate had
not placed her amid unforeseen and terrible events, the shock of which
she could not endure. In 1812 we see her a loving mother, a faithful
wife, a worthy sovereign. If Napoleon had adopted a less imprudent
policy, all that would have lasted. Doubtless that is what he said to
himself when, at Saint Helena, he impartially examined his career, and
he had no angry thought, no bitter word, for the woman who has been so
severely judged by others.

XXVI.

THE EMPRESS'S HOUSEHOLD.

We have just tried to draw a picture of the appearance and character of
Marie Louise in 1812, when at the summit of her fortune; let us turn our
attention to the organization of her household at this epoch, and to
the details of her daily life. Her first almoner was Count Ferdinand de
Rohan, formerly Archbishop of Cambrai; her knight-of-honor was the Count
of Beauharnais, who had held the same position to the Empress Josephine,
a relative of his. Napoleon had at first meant to appoint the Count of
Narbonne to this place, but Marie Louise had dissuaded him. M. Villemain
says in his _Life_ of M. de Narbonne: "The Empress Marie Louise,
generally so yielding to her husband, on this occasion manifested great
opposition. Whether through womanly kindness or through her pride as a
sovereign, possibly through some superstitious scruple as a second wife,
she insisted on the retention in this post of the Count of Beauharnais;
she was unwilling on any terms to seem to exclude, in the person of this
relative of Josephine, the first name of the Princess whom she succeeded
on the French throne. On the other hand, it is fair to suppose that in
the dashing and attractive Count of Narbonne she was willing to keep
away certain things which were unfamiliar and so alarming to her,
such as the lighter graces, the jesting spirit of the old court, and
doubtless too the melancholy presentiments attached, in her mind, to
everything that recalled Versailles and the daughters of Louis XV., who
had become the aunts of Marie Antoinette. In a word, Marie Louise, cold
and calm, was inflexible in her opposition to the choice which the
Emperor announced to her. He at once yielded the point, and smoothed
matters over by appointing M. de Narbonne one of his aides, an odd favor
for a man fifty-five years old, a relic of the former court, suddenly
made a member of the most warlike and most active staff in Europe." For
first equerry Marie Louise had Prince Aldobrandini, and for master of
ceremonies, the Count de Seyssel d'Aix.

The maid-of-honor was Madame Lannes, Duchess of Montebello, the widow of
the famous marshal who was killed in Austria in the first war. Meneval
tells us that Napoleon in making this appointment hesitated between this
lady and the Princess of Beauvau. "The fear of introducing into his
court influences hostile to the national ideas, such as a German
princess might have favored, with the prejudices of her birth and
position, made him give up this idea. He decided for the Duchess,
thinking this an honor due to the memory of one of his oldest and
bravest comrades." It was a most happy choice. Madame de Montebello
was ten years older than the Empress; very handsome, stately, above
reproach, of whom the Emperor said when he appointed her, "I give the
Empress a real lady-of-honor."

In the purity of her features, the Duchess of Montebello recalled
Raphael's Virgins. There was in her appearance, and in her life, a
quality of calmness, of regularity, which greatly pleased Marie Louise,
who was also much touched by her untiring devotion at the time of her
child's birth, when for nine whole days Madame de Montebello remained
in the Empress's room, sleeping at night on a sofa, and the Empress was
grateful to her for having rigorously performed what could be demanded
only of affection or devotion.

Madame Durand says that Marie Louise felt the need of a friend, and that
the Duchess won her confidence and good graces to such an extent that
the Empress could not do without her; she got to love her like a sister,
and tried to prove her affection by great confidence to her and to her
children. She was always delighted to choose presents that the Duchess
would like, and offered them to her with charming amiability. Naturally
a preference of this sort aroused a great deal of jealousy, especially
among the ladies of the palace, most of whom belonged to older families
than did the Duchess, and were somewhat annoyed that she was preferred
to them. Whenever the Emperor was away, Madame de Montebello used to
stay with the Empress, and every morning Marie Louise used to go to
her room to chat with her, and in order to avoid passing through the
drawing-room, where the other ladies had assembled, she used to go
through a dark passage, which greatly offended these ladies. According
to Madame Durand, Madame de Montebello scorned to hide her real opinions
about any one of whom she was talking, and gave her opinion clearly and
frankly. This openness--a virtue rare in courts--inspired the Empress's
confidence, but earned her many enemies; but they, in spite of their
ill-will, could not injure her reputation. The lady of the bedchamber to
the Empress was the Countess of Lucay, who had been a lady-in-waiting
since the beginning of the Consulate. She was a gentle, modest,
distinctly virtuous person, who enjoyed general esteem and sympathy.
The Emperor set great store by her. "In private life," says General
de Segur, "Napoleon was gentle and confiding, and especially fond of
honorable people, whose delicacy and uprightness were above suspicion,
and of women of the best reputation; he was a good judge, and he
demanded a great deal. This was undeniably true, and the exceptions were
very few: the way he chose his council and the officers attached to his
person, shows it. In corroboration I will quote first the Grand Marshal
Duroc with all the household of the palace, whose affairs were managed
more honestly and better than those of any private house that can be
named. As to the ladies of the court, it will be enough to name Madame
de Lucay, my mother-in-law, the Lady of the Bedchamber, and Madame de
Montesquiou, governess of the King of Rome, whom the Emperor chose when
my mother declined the position from ill-health. His confidence, when
once given, was unlimited."

The Countess of Montesquiou, the governess of the King of Rome, was
the wife of the Emperor's Grand Chamberlain. The Baron de Meneval thus
speaks of her: "Madame de Montesquiou, who was of high birth, received
the highest consideration and thoroughly deserved it. She was forty-six
years old when she was appointed governess of the Imperial children;
her reputation was above reproach. She was a woman of great piety, yet
indifferent to petty formalities; her manners had a noble simplicity,
her whole nature was dignified but benevolent, her character was firm,
and her principles were excellent. She combined all the qualities that
were required for the important position which the Emperor, of his
own choice, had given her." Madame Durand speaks as warmly about the
Countess of Montesquiou: "It would have been hard to make a better
choice. This lady, who belonged to an illustrious family, had received
an excellent education; to the manners of the best society she added a
piety too firmly fixed and too wise to run into bigotry. Her life had
been so well ordered that she escaped any breath of calumny. Some were
inclined to call her haughty, but this haughtiness was tempered by
politeness and the most gracious consideration for others. She took the
most tender and constant care of the young Prince, and there could be
nothing nobler and more generous than the devotion which led her later
to leave the country and her friends, to follow the lot of this young
Prince whose hopes had been destroyed. Her sole reward was bitter sorrow
and unjust persecution.

"The Duchess of Montebello and the Countess of Montesquieu had little
sympathy for each other, but they never betrayed any coolness. Even had
they desired it, they would have been held in awe by fear of
Napoleon, who insisted on harmony in his court. Still, there could
be distinguished at the Tuileries two parties in occult opposition,
belonging respectively to the old and to the new nobility. At the head
of the first stood the Count and the Countess of Montesquieu; of the
second, the Duchess of Montebello, to whom the Empress's preference gave
great authority. Madame Durand says that all the influence which the
Grand Chamberlain and his wife, the governess of the King of Rome,
enjoyed was exercised in obtaining pardon, favors, pensions, and places
for the nobles, whether they had left France or not; they assured the
Emperor that this was the best way of attaching them to his person, of
making them love his government. They said this because they really
thought it; and since they believed that the destiny of France was
firmly fixed, they were anxious to secure for the ruler of this Empire
those men whom they regarded as its strongest support. Since he had seen
Madame de Montesquiou's unwearying devotion to his son, it was seldom
that he refused her whatever she asked."

The new nobility, which was jealous of the old, had a representative in
the Duchess of Montebello, who was very proud, and did not admit the
superiority of the old aristocracy to the illustrious plebeians,
who, like her husband, had no ancestors, but were destined to become
ancestors themselves. She thought that the title of Duke was not enough
for her valiant husband, and that the Emperor, in not making him a
prince like Davout, Massena, and Berthier, had been unjust, and that
Marshal Lannes was of more account than all the dukes and marquises of
the Versailles court.

There was at court, between these two groups of the old and the new
nobility, a third party, the military party, headed by the Grand Marshal
of the Palace, Duroc, Duke of Frioul, who, seeing honor and glory only
in the career of a soldier, looked down on all other occupations. The
Emperor secretly favored him, but he nevertheless remained true to his
usual system of neutralizing all opinions, by trying to balance their
forces. Each one of the three rival parties kept an eye on the other
two, and thus everything of interest came to the Emperor's ears.

In 1812, the ladies-in-waiting were the Duchess of Bassano, the
Countess Victor de Mortemart, the Duchess of Rovigo, the Countesses
of Montmorency, Talhouet, Law de Lauriston, Duchatel, of Bouille,
Montalivet, Perron, Lascaris Vintimiglia, Brignole, Gentile, Canisy, the
Princess Aldobrandini, the Duchesses of Dalberg, Elchingen, Bellune,
Countesses Edmond de Perigord and of Beauvau, Mesdames de Trasignies,
Vilain XIV., Antinori, Rinuccini, Pandolfini Capone, and the Countesses
Chigi and Bonacorsi. They accompanied the Empress in her walks and
drives and at the theatre. They were real women-chamberlains, always
at her side when she appeared in public, but they had no part in her
domestic life and did not reside in the Imperial palaces. This privilege
belonged to only six other women, who occupied a humbler position in the
court hierarchy, but yet saw much more of the Empress.

In her time Josephine had four other ladies who held a position of
something like female ushers, and whose duty it was to announce the
persons who came to her apartments. These four ladies had numerous
squabbles with the ladies-in-waiting over points in etiquette; and
Napoleon, to put a stop to these heart-burnings, decided to substitute
for them four new ladies, who should be chosen from those who had charge
of Madame Campan's school at Ecouen for the daughters of members of the
Legion of Honor.

Among those thus appointed was the widow of a general, Madame Durand,
whose curious Memoirs we have often consulted. Some months later the
Emperor raised their number to six, and appointed two of the pupils
of this school, a daughter and a sister of distinguished officers,
Mesdemoiselles Malerot and Rabusson.

These six ladies had an important position. Not only did they announce
all the Empress's visitors; they also had actual charge of the domestic
service, with six chambermaids under their orders, who only entered
the Empress's rooms when she rang for them, while they, four, being in
attendance every day, spent all their time with Marie Louise. They went
to the Empress as soon as she was up, and did not leave her till she
had gone to bed. Then all the doors of the Empress's room were locked,
except one, leading into the next room, where slept the one of the
ladies in charge, and Napoleon himself could not go into Marie Louise's
room at night without passing through this room. No man, with the
exception of the Empress's private secretary, her keeper of the purse,
and her medical attendants, could enter her apartment without an order
from the Emperor. Even ladies, other than the Lady of Honor and the Lady
of the Bedchamber, were not received there except by appointment. The
six ladies we have mentioned had charge of the enforcement of these
rules, and were responsible for their observance. One of them was
present at the Empress's drawing, music, and embroidery lessons.
They wrote at her dictation, or under her orders. The same etiquette
prevailed when the court was on its travels. Always one of these six
ladies slept in the next room to the Empress, and that was the only
approach to her chamber.

Madame Durand tells vis the goldsmith Biennais had made for the Empress
a letter-case with a good many secret drawers which she alone could
know, and he asked to be allowed to explain it to her. Marie Louise
spoke about it to the Emperor, who gave her permission to receive him.
Biennais was consequently summoned to Saint Cloud and admitted into the
music-room, where he stood at one end with the Empress, while Madame
Durand was in the same room, but so far off that she could not overhear
his explanation. Just when this was finished the Emperor came in, and
seeing Biennais, he asked who that man was; the Empress hastened to tell
him, to explain the reason of his coming, mentioning that he had himself
given him permission. This the Emperor absolutely denied, and pretended
that the lady-in-waiting was to blame; he scolded her so severely that
the Empress could scarcely stop him, although she said, "But, my dear,
it is I who ordered Biennais to come." The Emperor laughed, and told her
that she had nothing to do about it; that the lady was responsible for
every one she admitted, and was alone to blame; and that he hoped that
nothing of the sort would ever happen again.

Another time, when M. Paer was giving Marie Louise a music-lesson, the
lady, who was present as usual at the lesson, had an order to give.
She opened the door and was leaning half out to give the order, when
Napoleon came in. At first he did not see her, and thought she was not
present. The music-master went out. "Where were you when I came in?" the
Emperor asked. She called his attention to the fact that she had not
left the room. He refused to believe her, and gave her a long sermon
in the course of which he said that he was unwilling that any man, no
matter what his rank, should be able to flatter himself that he had been
two seconds alone with the Empress. He added with some warmth: "Madame,
I honor and respect the Empress; but the sovereign of a great empire
must be placed above any breath of suspicion."

The gynaeceum of Marie Louise was thus guarded with the greatest care and
submitted to a very severe discipline. Napoleon entered freely into his
wife's room whenever he pleased, and she never complained; for having
absolutely nothing to conceal from him, she had no desire to be
unfaithful to him even in her thoughts.

Madame Durand tells us that the Emperor, who desired to rule in
important matters, endured, and even liked to be contradicted on minor
matters. "When he was with Marie Louise, he used to be forever teasing
her ladies about a thousand things; it often happened that they stood
up against him, and he would carry on the discussion and laugh heartily
when he had succeeded in vexing the young girls, who, in their frankness
and ignorance of the ways of the world and the court, made very lively
and unaffected answers which were amusing for those to whom they were
addressed."

The nearness of these six ladies to the Empress aroused much jealousy.
The name by which they were to be called was often changed. For some
time they were allowed to call themselves First Ladies of the Empress;
but this title offended the ladies of the palace, who wanted to call
them First Chambermaids, which made them very angry. The Emperor at last
gave them the name of _Lectrices_. They had under them six ordinary
chambermaids who had no position in the court; these dressed the
Empress, put on her shoes and stockings, and did her hair every morning;
they were, in fact, chambermaids.

This is the way in which Marie Louise passed the day: At eight in the
morning her window shutters were thrown open, and the curtains of her
bed pushed back. The newspapers were brought to her, and she took her
first breakfast in bed. At nine she dressed, and received intimate
friends. At twelve she ate her second breakfast. Then she would practise
a little, or draw, or sew, or play billiards. At two, if the weather was
pleasant, she would drive out with the Duchess of Montebello, the Knight
of Honor, and two ladies-in-waiting. Sometimes she rode on horseback; it
was Napoleon who had given her lessons at Saint Cloud. "He used to walk
by her side, holding her hand, while an equerry led the horse by the
bridle; he allayed her fear and encouraged her. She profited by her
lessons, became bolder, and at last rode very well. When she did credit
to her teacher, the lessons went on, sometimes in the avenues of the
private park just outside of the family drawing-room, so called because
it was adorned with portraits of the Imperial family. When the Emperor
had a moment's leisure after breakfast, he used to have the horses
brought around, would get on one himself in his silk stockings and
silver-buckled shoes, and ride by the Empress's side. He would urge her
horse on, get it to gallop, laughing heartily at her terrified cries,
although all danger was guarded against by the presence of a line of
huntsmen ready to stop the horse and prevent a fall."

On returning, Marie Louise often took a lesson in music or painting. She
was a real musician, and had a real talent for the piano. Prudhon and
Isabey, who taught her drawing and painting, praised her talents. As
Lamartine says: "When she entered her own rooms or the solitude of
the gardens, she was once more a German woman. She cultivated poetry,
drawing, singing. Education had perfected these talents in her, as if to
console her, far from her country, for the absence and the sorrows to
which the young girl would be one day condemned. She excelled in these
things, but for herself alone. She used to read and recite from memory
the poets of her own language and country." Marie Louise busied herself
with charities, but without ostentation, almost secretly; hence she
never won the credit for it that she deserved. Her generosity did not
limit itself to the ten thousand francs which she set aside out of
her allowance of fifty thousand francs a month; she never heard of a
case of suffering without at once trying to relieve it.

In private life Marie Louise was kind and amiable. She was very polite
and gentle; unlike many princesses, she was not given to fickle
preferences and to infatuations as intense as they were brief; she was
not unjust, violent, or capricious. She was never angry; she did not
give empty promises, or affect any excessive interest, but she could
always be depended on; she never distressed or humiliated any one.
Having been trained from her infancy to court life, she was a kind
mistress, for she had learned to combine two qualities that are often
irreconcilable--dignity and gentleness. All who were thrown into her
society agree in this. Sometimes, according to Madame Durand, when she
was in company her face had a melancholy expression inspired by the
demands of etiquette that were made upon her; but "when she had returned
to her own quarters, she was gentle, merry, affable, and adored by all
who were with her every day.... Nothing was more gracious, more amiable,
than her face when she was at her ease, quietly at home in the evening,
or among those to whom she was particularly attached."

Marie Louise gave a great deal of care to her son, whom she tenderly
loved. She had him brought to her every morning, and she kept him with
her until she had to dress. In the course of the day, in the intervals
of her lessons, she used to visit the little King in his apartment,
and sit by his side and sew. Often she took him and his nurse to the
Emperor; the nurse would stop at the door of the room in which Napoleon
was, and Marie Louise would enter, with the child in her arms, always
afraid that she was going to drop him. Then the Emperor would run up,
take the child, and cover him with kisses.

The Baron de Meneval writes thus: "Sometimes he was seated on his
favorite sofa, near the mantel-piece, on which stood two magnificent
bronze busts, of Scipio and Hannibal, and was busily reading an
important report; sometimes he went to his writing-desk, hollowed in
the middle, with two projecting shelves, covered with papers, to sign a
despatch, every word of which had to be carefully weighed; but his son,
sitting on his knees, or held close to his chest, never left him. He had
such a marvellous power of concentration that he could at the same time
give his attention to important business and humor his son. Again,
laying aside the great thoughts which haunted his mind, he would lie
down on the floor by the boy's side, and play with him like another
child, eager to amuse him and to spare him every annoyance."

M. de Meneval also tells us that the Emperor had had made little blocks
of mahogany, of different lengths and various colors, with one end
notched, to represent battalions, regiments, and divisions, and that
when he wanted to try some new combination of troops, he used to set out
these blocks on the floor. "Sometimes," adds M. de Meneval, "we used to
find him seriously occupied in arranging these blocks, rehearsing one of
the able manoeuvres with which he triumphed on the battle-field. The boy,
seated at his side, delighted by the shape and color of the blocks,
which reminded him of his toys, would stretch out his hand every minute
and disturb the order of battle, often at the decisive moment, just when
the enemy was about to be beaten; but the Emperor was so cool and so
considerate of his son, that he was not disturbed by the confusion
introduced into his manoeuvres, but he would begin again, without
annoyance, to arrange the blocks. His patience and his kindness to the
boy were inexhaustible."

Napoleon was also very kind to Marie Louise. He did everything that he
could to make his wife happy and respected. He arranged matters in such
a way that etiquette should not interfere with her favorite occupations.
She dined alone with him every evening, and when he was absent, she
dined with the Duchess of Montebello. After dinner there was generally a
small reception or a little concert. At eleven Marie Louise withdrew
to her own apartment, and her life was monotonous, but agreeable.
She generally spent the summer at Saint Cloud and the winter at the
Tuileries. At Saint Cloud, where the park was a great attraction to her,
she slept in a room on the first floor, which had been occupied by Marie
Antoinette and Josephine. (In the time of Napoleon III. it was the
Council Hall of the Ministers.) At the Tuileries, her rooms were on the
ground floor, between the Pavilion of the Clock, and that of Flora, and
had also been occupied by the Queen and the first Empress. They looked
out on the garden, and consisted of a gala apartment and a private one.
The first consisted of an ante-chamber, a first and second drawing-room,
a drawing-room of the Empress, a dining-room, and a concert-room; the
second, of a bedchamber, the library, the dressing-room, the boudoir,
and the bathroom. A rigid etiquette controlled the entrance to the
Empress's as well as the Emperor's apartment. Napoleon lived on the
first floor, where he had the bedroom which had been previously
occupied by Louis XV. and by Louis XVI.; but there was a little private
staircase, which he used constantly, leading to his wife's apartment.

Marie Louise was on good terms with the princes and princesses of
the Imperial family, who were less offended by the superiority of an
archduchess than they had been by that of a woman of humble origin,
like Josephine. In accordance with her husband's directions, the second
Empress was always polite and affable in her relations with his family,
but she was never too familiar. No one of her sisters-in-law was as
intimate with her as was the Duchess of Montebello. One incident, for
which Marie Louise was in no way responsible, threw a little coolness
on her relations with the princesses, although it was of but brief
duration. Soon after the birth of the King of Rome the Emperor noticed
that near the bed on which the Empress was to lie there had been placed
three armchairs,--one for his mother, the other two for the Queens of
Spain and of Holland. He found fault with this arrangement, saying that
since his mother was not a queen, she ought not to have an armchair, and
that none of them should have one. Accordingly, for the armchairs he had
three handsome footstools substituted. When the three ladies came in,
they noticed, with some annoyance, the change that had been made, and
soon left. They would have done wrong to blame the Empress; for it was
the Emperor who was responsible, and when Napoleon gave an order, no
one, not even his wife, could have thought of saying a word. In matters
of etiquette he controlled the minutest details and regarded them as
very important. Nothing came of this little incident, and in general the
members of the Emperor's family got on better with the second Empress
than with the first.

In short, what did Marie Louise lack in the beginning of 1812? She had
a husband, at the height of his fame and glory, who gave her more
affection, regard, and consideration than any one else in the world. She
was the mother of a superb child, whom every one admired. Around her she
saw respect on every face. For maid-of-honor she had a real friend, a
woman whom she would herself have chosen, so highly did she value her
character and manners. Her household consisted of the flower of the
French aristocracy. She followed her own tastes, studied with the best
masters, distributed alms as she pleased, lived in the handsomest
palaces in Europe. There were no discomforts, no difficulties, in her
position. She had no conflicting duties, no occasion to decide between
her father and her husband, between the country of her birth and that
of her adoption, none of those struggles and heartrending perplexities
which so cruelly beset her afterwards. At that time the Emperor Francis
was well contented with his son-in-law, and corresponded with him in
a most friendly way. At that happy moment the Frenchwoman could be an
Austrian without injury to her mission and her duty. The path she was
to follow was clearly traced. Alas! it was not for long that she was
to enjoy this calm and equable happiness, so well suited to her timid
nature, which was made to obey, not to rule. She had then no cause to
blame her fate or herself. As a young girl, as a wife, as a mother, she
had nothing to ask for. Her satisfaction was furthered by the thought
that she was soon to see again her father, her family, her country; and
apart from the matter of feeling, she must have been gratified by the
thought that she was to appear again in Austria with a brilliancy and
splendor such as no other woman in the world could show. Her stay in
Dresden was the crowning point of her brief grandeur, the end of the
swift but dazzling period of prosperity and good fortune which may be
described as the happy days of the Empress Marie Louise.

XXVII.

DRESDEN.

The _Moniteur_ of May 10, 1812, contained the following announcement:
"Paris, May 9. The Emperor left to-day to inspect the Grand Army
assembled on the Vistula. Her Majesty the Empress will accompany His
Majesty as far as Dresden, where she hopes to have the pleasure of
seeing her August family. She will return in July at the latest. His
Majesty the King of Rome will spend the summer at Meudon, where he has
been for a month. He has finished his teething, and enjoys perfect
health. He will be weaned at the end of the month."

It will be acknowledged that it was a somewhat singular thing to
announce thus in the same article the speedy weaning of a baby and the
beginning of the most colossal campaign of modern times. Not a word had
been said about war. Never had the departure for an army seemed more
like a pleasure trip. Followed by a great part of his court, Napoleon,
like a Darius or a Louis XIV., had left Saint Cloud, May 9, in the same
carriage as the Empress. The Republican general had disappeared before a
magnificent monarch surrounded by Asiatic pomp. The possibility of
defeat occurred to no one. One would have supposed that he was starting
on a long ovation, a triumphal progress.

At every step the all-powerful Emperor and his young wife seemed to be
tasting the onsets of grandeur and glory. May 9 he slept at Chalons; the
10th he entered Metz, where he at once got on horseback, reviewed the
troops, and visited the fortifications. The 11th he was at Mayence,
where he received the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Hesse
Darmstadt, as well as the Prince of Anhalt-Koethen. The 13th he crossed
the Rhine, stopped a moment to see the Prince Primate at Aschaffenburg,
met in the course of the day the King of Wuertemberg and the Grand Duke
of Baden, and spent the night at Wuerzburg, the sovereign of which was
the former Grand Duke of Tuscany, the brother of the Emperor of Austria.
Marie Louise was delighted to see her uncle again, who was to join her
at Dresden. The 14th they slept at Bayreuth, the 15th at Plauen, and on
the 16th they reached Dresden.

As Thiers says, Napoleon had passed through Germany amid an
unprecedented throng of the populace, whose curiosity equalled their
hatred. "Never, indeed, had the potentate whom they abhorred appeared
more surrounded with glory. People talked with mingled surprise and
terror of the six hundred thousand men who had gathered at his
command from all parts of Europe. They ascribed to him plans far more
extraordinary than those he had formed. They said he was going by Russia
to India. They spread abroad a thousand fables far wilder than his
real designs, and almost believed them accomplished, so much had his
continual success discouraged hatred from hoping for what it desired.
Vast heaps of wood were prepared along his path, and at nightfall these
were set on fire to light his road; so that what was really curiosity
produced almost the same effect as love and joy."

The Emperor's intention in going to Dresden was to spend two or three
weeks there before taking command of his armies, and to dazzle all
Europe by the sumptuous court which he should hold in the Saxon capital.
For some weeks Marie Louise had been hoping to meet her father at
Dresden, and the thought filled her with joy. She had written to him,
March 15: "The Emperor sends all sorts of kind messages to you. He bids
me tell you also that if we have war, he will take me to Dresden, where
I shall spend two months, and where I hope soon to see you too. You
cannot imagine, dear father, the pleasure I take in this hope. I am sure
that you will not refuse me the great pleasure of bringing my dear mamma
and my brothers and sisters. But I beg of you, dear papa, don't say
anything about it, for nothing is decided." Marie Louise was at the
height of happiness when she reached Saxony. At that moment she was very
proud of being Napoleon's wife. She entered Dresden with him, May 16,
1812, at eleven in the evening, escorted by the King and Queen of
Saxony, who had gone to Freiberg to meet them.

The next morning at eight, Napoleon, who was staying in the grand
apartment of the royal castle, received the sovereign princes of
Saxe-Coburg, Saxe-Weimar, and Dessau, as well as the high officials of
the Saxon court. The King of Westphalia and the Grand Duke of Wuerzburg
arrived in the course of the day, and at once presented their respects.

At one o'clock in the afternoon of the 18th the Emperor and Empress of
Austria arrived in Dresden. "What a moment for Marie Louise!" writes
Madame Durand. "She found herself once more in her father's arms, and
appeared before the dazzled eyes of her family, the happiest of wives,
the first of sovereigns! Her August father could not hide his emotion.
He tenderly kissed his son-in-law, and recognizing the claims he had
upon his heart, told him more than once that he could count on him
and on Austria for the triumph of the common cause." Possibly these
assurances were not perfectly sincere, but Napoleon believed in them, or
pretended to believe in them. As for Marie Louise, she never interfered
in politics, and gave herself up to family joys.

The period of Napoleon's stay at Dresden was the culmination of his
power. Possibly no mortal had ever attained so high a position as this
new Agamemnon. "It is at Dresden," says Chateaubriand, "that he united
the separate parts of the Confederation of the Rhine, and for the first
and last time set in motion this machine of his own creation. Among the
exiled masterpieces of painting which sadly missed the Italian sun,
there took place the meeting of Napoleon and Marie Louise with a crowd
of sovereigns, great and small. These sovereigns tried to make out of
their different courts subordinate circles of the first court, and
rivalled with one another in vassalage. One wanted to be the cup-bearer
of the ensign of Brienne; another, his butler. Charlemagne's history
was put under contribution by the erudition of the German chancellor's
officers. The higher they were, the more eager their demands. As
Bonaparte said in Las Cases, a lady of the Montmorencys would have
hastened to undo the Empress's shoes." The monarchs were more like
Napoleon's courtiers than his equals. Princes and private citizens, rich
and poor, nobles and plebeians, friends and enemies, crowded to get a
look at him. Night and day there was an immense throng gazing at the
doors and windows of the palace in which lodged the predestined being,
in hope of being able to say, "I have seen him." The French waited on
him with idolatry. The Germans had a complex feeling about him, in which
admiration was stronger than hate.

General de Segur, who was at Dresden with Napoleon, represents him
as moderate and even eager to please, but with visible effort and
manifestations of the fatigue which he experienced. As to the German
princes, their attitude, their words, even the tone of their voice,
showed the ascendancy he exercised over them. They were all there solely
on his account. They scarcely ventured to discuss anything, being always
ready to recognize his superiority of which he was himself only too
conscious. "His reception," adds the General, "presented a remarkable
sight. Sovereign princes flocked thither to await an audience of the
Conqueror of Europe; they so crowded his officers, that these last often
had to remind one another to take care not to offend these new courtiers
who were crowding among them. Napoleon's presence thus removed the
differences, for he was as much their chief as he was ours. This common
dependence seemed to level everything about him. Then possibly the
ill-concealed military pride of many French generals offended these
princes, when the former seemed to think that they were elevated to
royal rank; for whatever the dignity and position of the conquered, the
conqueror is his equal."

May 18, the day of the arrival of the Emperor and the Empress of
Austria, it was the King of Saxony who gave a dinner to his guests; but
on the other days it was Napoleon who assumed the duties of hospitality,
as if he had been at home in Dresden. He wanted to receive, not to be
received. The sovereigns ate at his table, and it was he who fixed the
hours and all the details of etiquette. Since he was unwilling that his
stay should inconvenience the King of Saxony, who was not rich, he was
preceded and followed by his household, which was supplied with
everything necessary for a magnificent representation. Part of the
handsome vermilion table service presented to him by the city of Paris,
on the occasion of his marriage, had been carried to Dresden, and there
was all the luxury of the Tuileries.

At Saint Helena the beaten conqueror recalled the memory of his past
splendors with a certain satisfaction. "The interview at Dresden," he
said in his Memorial, "was the moment of Napoleon's highest power. Then
he appeared as the king of kings. He was compelled to point out that
some attention should be paid to his father-in-law, the Emperor of
Austria. Neither this monarch nor the King of Prussia had his household
with him; nor did Alexander at Tilsit or Erfurt. There, as at Dresden,
they ate at Napoleon's table. These courts, the Emperor used to say,
were mean and middle-class; it was he who arranged the etiquette and
set the tone. He invited Francis to visit him and dazzled him with his
splendor. Napoleon's luxury and magnificence must have made him seem
like an Asiatic satrap. There, as at Tilsit, he covered with diamonds
every one who came near him." He had brought after him the best actors
of the Theatre Francais, and, as at Erfurt, Talma played before a pit
full of kings.

What were the real feelings of these princes, who were so obsequious to
Napoleon? The King of Saxony, the patriarch of these monarchs, was
a frank, loyal man, of a keen sense of honor, and he was thoroughly
sincere in the devotion he professed to the Emperor, to whom he thought
he owed a great debt. Napoleon, who was very fond of this king, would
have no other guards at Dresden than the Saxon soldiers. Even after
Leipsic he retained a pleasant memory of them, and at Saint Helena he
said to those who charged him with excessive confidence in them, "I was
then in so kind a family, with such good people, that there was no risk;
every one loved me, and even now I am sure that the King of Saxony says
every day a _Pater_ and an _Ave_ for me."

Unlike the Saxon king, the Emperor of Austria, in spite of the family
ties, had but very moderate affection for Napoleon. Metternich, who was
at Dresden, says in his Memoirs, "The attitude of the two sovereigns was
such as their respective positions demanded, but was yet very cool."
Thiers describes the Emperor Francis as opening his arms almost
sincerely to his son-in-law, displaying a sort of inconsistency, which
is more frequent than is generally imagined, torn between delight at
seeing his daughter so exalted and pain at Austria's losses; promising
Napoleon his assistance after having promised Alexander that this
assistance would be nothing, saying to himself that after all he had
adopted a wise course, by making himself sure whichever party should be
victorious, yet with more confidence in Napoleon's success, from which
he sought to get profit in advance.

As to the Empress of Austria, the step-mother of Marie Louise, she
concealed beneath formality and perfect politeness a profound antipathy
to the conqueror. It required almost a formal order from her husband to
bring her to Dresden. She was then a pretty woman, twenty-four years
old, witty, and proud of her birth and her crown. Napoleon she looked
on as an upstart, a vainglorious adventurer, the cause of all the
humiliations inflicted on the Austrian monarchy; and the splendor which
surrounded the hero of Marengo, of Austerlitz, of Wagram, aroused in
her a resentment all the keener because she was compelled to hide it.
Napoleon in his pique determined to win over the step-mother of Marie
Louise.

The health of the Empress of Austria was so delicate that she was unable
to walk through the long row of rooms. Consequently Napoleon used to
walk in front of her, one hand holding his hat, while the other rested
on the door of her sedan-chair, talking in the liveliest way with
his witty enemy. General de Segur, like every one else, noticed the
hostility which the Empress in vain tried to conceal. "The Empress of
Austria," he says, "whose parents had been dispossessed by Napoleon in
Italy, was noticeable for her aversion which she vainly essayed to
hide; it made itself at once manifest to Napoleon, and he met it with a
smiling face; but she made use of her intelligence and charm to win over
hearts and to sow the seeds of hate of him."

In fact, the Empress of Austria was jealous of the Empress of the
French. She distinctly recalled the time when she used to have her
under her control, and she was annoyed to see her former pupil taking
precedence of every queen and empress. She would have liked to be able
to give her advice, as she had done in the past, and to exercise her
authority as step-mother in criticising her; but she did not dare to do
this, and the restraint was not agreeable. The careful observer finds
life in a palace what it is in the house of a humble citizen. As
La Bruyere has said: "At court, as in the town, there are the same
passions, the same pettinesses, the same caprices, the same quarrels in
families and between friends, the same jealousies, the same antipathies:
everywhere there are daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law, husbands and
wives, divorces, ruptures, and ineffectual reconciliations; everywhere
eccentricity, anger, preferences, tattling, and tale-bearing. With good
eyes it is easy to see town life, the Rue Saint Denis transported to
Versailles or Fontainebleau."

Count de Las Cases has said in the Memorial: "One of us ventured to ask
if the Empress of Austria was not the sworn enemy of Marie Louise. It
was nothing else, said the Emperor, than a pretty little court hatred, a
heartfelt detestation, concealed under daily letters, four pages long,
full of affection and endearment. The Empress of Austria was very
attentive to Napoleon and was very coquettish with him, so long as he
was in her presence, but as soon as his back was turned she was busy
with trying to detach Marie Louise from him by the vilest and most
malicious insinuations; she was much annoyed that she could get no power
over him. 'Besides,' said the Emperor, 'she is witty and intelligent
enough to embarrass her husband, who was sure that she cared very little
for him. Her face was agreeable and bright with a charm of its own. She
was like a pretty nun.'"

Napoleon kept busy at Dresden. Men were continually coming and going,
and the Emperor was actively working over the details, political and
military, of the vast expedition he was getting ready. Marie Louise, who
wished to avail herself of his few moments of leisure, scarcely left the
palace, and it was to no purpose that her step-mother, the Empress of
Austria, tried to represent this devotion as something ridiculous.

There was a sort of hidden rivalry between the two Empresses. Napoleon
had had all the crown diamonds brought to Dresden, and Marie Louise
was literally covered by them. General de Segur says: "She completely
effaced her step-mother by the splendor of her jewels. If Napoleon
demanded less display, she resisted him, even with tears, and the
Emperor yielded the point from affection, fatigue, or distraction. It
has been said that, in spite of her birth, this princess mortified the
pride of the Germans by some thoughtless comparisons between her new and
her former country. Napoleon blamed her for this, but very gently. The
patriotism with which he had inspired her gratified him; he tried to
set matters right by numerous presents." The Empress of Austria was
compelled to conceal her ill-will. She was present almost every morning
when Marie Louise was dressing, ransacked her step-daughter's laces,
ribbons, stuffs, shawls, and jewels, and carried something off almost
every day.

The Emperor Francis pretended not to notice the jealousies of his wife
and his daughter. He spent a good part of every day in walking about the
town, and was somewhat surprised at the enormous amount of work which
his son-in-law did. He sought to gratify the mighty Emperor by telling
him that in the Middle Ages the Bonaparte family had ruled over Treviso;
that he was sure of this, for he had seen the authentic documents that
proved it. Napoleon replied that he took no interest in it, that he
preferred being the Rudolph of Hapsburg of his family. The little
genealogical flattery produced its effect, nevertheless, and Marie
Louise was much pleased by it.

Napoleon was on the point of leaving Dresden, when Frederic William,
King of Prussia, arrived there. A treaty, signed February 24, 1812,
bound this prince to furnish for the next campaign twenty thousand men,
under a Prussian general, but bound to obey the commander of the French
army corps to which they should be assigned. Austria, by a treaty
concluded March 14, had promised to furnish a corps of thirty thousand
men, commanded by an Austrian general, under Napoleon's orders. Prussia
especially suffered under such a condition of things, and the memory of
Jena had never been keener or more distressing. The occupation of
Spandau and Pillau by the French, and the ravages inflicted on the
kingdom by the troops marching towards Russia, had much disturbed and
grieved Frederic William, who imagined that Napoleon meant to dethrone
him. Being very anxious to have early information about the lot that
awaited him, he sent to Dresden M. von Hatzfeld, the great Prussian
nobleman whom Napoleon had wanted to have shot in 1806, and to whom he
had later become much attached, which shows, as Thiers has said, that
it is well to think twice before having any one shot. Through M. von
Hatzfeld the King of Prussia requested an interview with the Emperor in
Berlin. The Emperor made answer that Berlin was not on his road, that

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